I wasn’t expecting this. I was completely caught off guard. I didn’t even think babies could throw tantrums!
I look at my son and remember what he was like as a baby. Sweet, curious, and happy, and entirely too attached to me. Not much seemed to bother him. He only complained when I tried to feed him anything he didn’t want (he still does). Even when he knocked a toy to the floor, he didn’t complain; he just found something else.
My daughter is different. She’s super attached to me, more than her brother. She’s curious and independent and so incredibly stubborn. She tries and tries and tries and cries when she can’t. I know she’s going to be a handful.
But when she was 8.5 months, we had to take a small, swallowable toy away. She screamed. She cried. She threw her body backwards in my lap and kicked her little legs. She arched her back and shrieked.
My husband and I were caught off guard. Was our sweet little girl, our 8 month baby, throwing a tantrum? Was that possible? It sure looked a lot like her older brother’s tantrums.
A tantrum occurs when a child gets so frustrated they are incapable of voicing their needs. They have worked themselves up and now cannot regulate how they feel to say what they need. They are frustrated.
By that definition, yes, my daughter was having a tantrum. We took something away and she got frustrated. Unlike an older child, she couldn’t say what was wrong; she could only react. By throwing a tantrum.
We didn’t know what to do. Doing what we do for our toddler wasn’t going to work. We couldn’t ignore her or put her in time out. But she also wouldn’t let me hold her and comfort her. I just had to hold her until her little body became pliant enough for me to hold her to my heart and kiss her little head. It only lasted a minute or two, but it wasn’t fun.
She’s had a few more tantrums since. I’m still learning how to take care of her. But here’s what usually works:
- Stay calm. Just like with my toddler, I stay calm. I know exactly why she’s upset, but I can’t give in because she usually wants to put something small and inedible in her mouth. So I stay calm and speak calmly and soothingly.
- I explain what happened to her. She may not understand me, but I explain everything to my son, so I explain everything to her. I tell her why she can’t have it.
- I hold her loosely. She stays in my lap, but I’m not going to try to hold her close. She keeps her body rigid, so I don’t want to hold her too tightly. She just lies in my lap through it all. When she goes slack, I hold her close.
It passes very quickly and I always offer her tons of love. I have good reasons for saying no. She will understand one day. For now, we just have to weather these baby tantrums. It’s the only way she can tell us she’s unhappy, upset, and frustrated.
Have you experienced this? What has helped you?