A coworker came back from a trip to the coffee shop steaming mad. Here's Sarah's story:
I'm meeting my husband at Starbucks today for a quick coffee and while in line I smile and coo at a 5-month-old boy in line ahead of me who was with his father and brother, a toddler.
When I get to the concession stand I hear the baby start to make those familiar hunger sounds, that “eh eh eh” sound I know all too well because I have a 4-month-old and 2-year-old.
By the time I am mixing my fifth sugar packet into the coffee the baby is crying. I turn to see that the father is done mixing his own drink well and he is in business discussion with an associate. He’s holding his happy toddler but not even acknowledging the crying baby in the stroller.
I sit down with my husband and the cry escalates to a blood-curdling scream. As a mom I can’t stand to hear the cry. All I can think about is walking over and swooping the baby into my arms. My husband is even wincing, not because the scream is painful but because we know it could have been prevented if the dad was just paying attention.
A man sitting beside us hears what we're talking about it so he joins in. He tells us he is thinking of calling the police because he’s not sure what else will break the father’s attention from his conversation. He says this loudly, hoping the father will hear. He doesn’t.
My husband suggests I do something, so I walk over to offer help. I ask if the baby needs food. The dad takes me up on the offer by handing me his toddler and he starts to make a bottle for the baby. As he does this he continues his conversation with his associate and is distracted so much that even when he’s done making the bottle he doesn’t give it to the baby.
His associate steps in, picks up the bottle and says “are we going to do this?”
The father gives the baby a couple sucks at it, but then takes the bottle away because he decides he doesn’t want to feed him at Starbucks and says to the baby: “You’re not going to like this but let’s go upstairs.”
I hand the toddler back and watch them leave as the baby begins to scream again. I hope he didn’t have to wait much longer, poor thing.
Scenes like this drive me crazy and I’ve witnessed it way too often. An infant cries to communicate and that's even a last resort communication. If you pay attention, infants give you clues as to what they need before the crying begins. Letting a baby cry that long just teaches them that crying is the only form of communication that works and as a result you just get more crying.
In my opinion an infant does not cry to manipulate and it certainly isn’t spoiling to respond to her needs. It’s not the same as when my 2-year-old cries because I won’t let her have ice cream for breakfast.