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Our 6 month baby screams at top of her throat to get attention , as soon as we resume playing with her she smiles and plays and she wants to play all day along which is not possible , so how to deal with such loud screams which are even heard on all other floors of our apartment. Her mother gets terrified hearing such a loud scream and thinks that such a loud scream can be fatal for her as it may damage her internal organs?

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I can't give advice about handling the screaming, but I do know that there is only the slightest of chances that the screaming will actually hurt her. If screaming was often fatal most of us wouldn't be here;) –  Dariusz Dec 29 '13 at 18:55
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If it gets her what she wants, you can count on it continuing. –  Marc Mar 4 at 22:13
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6 Answers

A baby's screaming to get your attention is not going to hurt her at all.

What she is doing is training you with the behaviour she wants:

she screams -> you play with her

What you can do is talk to her. At this point it doesn't matter that she can't understand everything you say, but giving a response along the lines of:

Just a moment - I'll finish this and then come and play

Without getting stressed or panicking can really help. Look across at her, give eye contact, and once you have finished what you were doing go and play. This will begin to teach her that she can wait a minute and the screaming loses its effect.

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I keep clicking ^ but it only did it once. Every sentence in your post is ^worthy. I'm not exaggerating either, I could dissect each sentence on it's value and meaning. –  monsto Jan 4 at 20:35
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A child of six months really does need a lot of attention. Too little would be of far more concern than any possible damage she could do to herself through screamig (not likely, as established by others already). Giving a child of this age enough attention while still having some:

  • time for yourself,
  • Time to get regular household chores done
  • Time for others in your life

can be extremely challenging. However, I found the best way to handle this for me was to go ahead and give my daughter the attention she needed as a preventative - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

They are not mentally capable of purposeful and willful manipulation at this age (Theory of mind to this point of understanding happens sometime between age three and age five for most children based on current cognitive psychological studies and understanding) - so her screaming is simply a communication to you that she is in need of something.

By including my daughter in what it was I was doing I was preventing her from needing to scream for attention. If I was washing dishes, I could set her on the floor at my feet with a dish she couldn't break and a dish towel and enlist her as "mommy's helper" in drying the dish. While we both did dishes, I would talk to her about what I was doing. Inevitably, she lost interest and went back to playing with whatever toys I had also placed near her. High chairs are also a good place (for short periods of time) for such "mother's helper" tasks, and I could still put her in the sling for short bits of time at this age as well. I used similar methods while getting laundry folded, homework (I was a teacher) graded, Dinner made etc. Often, it was enough just to be near me and know I was talking to her.

Speak to her as though you fully believe she understands everything you say (they usually understand far more than they can express back, and even when they don't, it is engaging their little brains and helping them learn language along the way). As you do things around the house and talk about them (whether it is changing her diaper, or chopping carrots) she is getting the time and attention she needs while you are still getting your daily tasks done.

You might also try 10 minutes of "play" together alternating with 5 -10 minutes of chores. For this method, (which I suggest using in conjunction with the other method) You engage single-mindedly with your baby in play for about ten minutes, leave your child while she is further engaged with whatever toy she has at the moment (but still always in sight) and spend five to minutes doing the chore.

Finally in terms of prevention, kids at this age have almost no attention span. So, in order to keep her engaged in independent play for as long as possible, I used to rotate toys a lot. My daughter may have always had about five to six toys around her, to choose from while playing independently, but every so often I'd switch out three of four of the toys. Then, when she was playing independently I often had a lot longer (five extra minutes perhaps?) before she needed help re-engaging in something else.

In regard to how to stop the screaming when it is happening despite your best efforts at prevention, doing something like ignoring the child, or leaving it alone completely while it screams is just not appropriate at such a young age. I would do essentially as Rory Alsop suggests. "I hear you want to play with me, I'll be there just a moment." As your daughter gets older (and more able to communicate with language), if she screams for something, saying something like - "I hear you need something. Is there another way to tell me about it?" will become increasingly appropriate - but hopefully, the screaming will go away on its own anyway.

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why you removed many parts of your answer? –  Ali Jan 5 at 4:21
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It just seemed wordy on a second look. I felt by removing what I did it was focused on my main points better, but if you would like me to roll it back to the original, or add something back you feel is now missing, just type the word :-) –  balanced mama Jan 5 at 19:26
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One thing I've always done is talk to my kids like they're just another person. I don't talk cute or baby, I talk words and I have appropriate expectation that they can deal with what I say.

This is a situation that is not only about who's runnin the joint -- @RoryAlsop's point -- but also about general interaction with a baby.

"What are you crazy? You can't talk to a 6 mo old!" Wrong. You can absolutely talk to a 6 mo old, what you can't do is have much expectation.

It's a known fact that reading to a baby that age is absolutely a positive thing for their mental development. Telling a baby

Just a moment - I'll finish this and then come and play

And being adamant about it with physical signals

Dude... just a moment!

Is far less complex than Red Fish Blue Fish. With repetition & consistency, the baby will understand "just a moment" long before they say their first word.

Immediate term, saying "Just a moment" to a 6 mo old means that you'll probably have a 7 mo old that comes to see what you're doing, a 2 yr old that knows that "Just a moment" means there are boundaries to your relationship, and an 8 yr old that knows how to wait patiently and respect other peoples space.

Last thing is a reminder to new parents: Patience. The baby is 6 mos old. You only have about 2 years of this to deal with.

And you know what else? If that one chore doesn't get done, the baby is not gonna care. Lighten up.

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I love the long-view "you'll probably had a 7month old that comes to see. . . 2 year old that knows that . . . and an 8 year old that knows how to wait patiently and respect. . . " nice - and so true. –  balanced mama Jan 5 at 3:09
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Damage to ears/internal organs

I read recently that a baby crying/screaming reaches anywhere between 110 dB to 115 dB. Continuous noise at 90 dB has a potential to cause ear damage, but that's 90 dB at a continual rate. Screams are typically just burst noise, not enough to cause eardrum damage.

As far as internal organs, screaming really won't damage anything internally, unless continued, at a constant rate for potentially years. Screamers in metal bands may or may not have issues if they scream incorrectly, but that is typically after years of peformance. In terms of damage to her body, I don't think that should be a concern. If babies weren't meant to scream, they wouldn't be able to.

Coping/Dealing

While I can't attest to the cry it out method simply because my wife wouldn't have any of that, eventually my first stopped screaming at play time. It took a couple months, but eventually she learned how to play by herself. Every now and then she wants attention, but she doesn't scream about it.

Now...that's not to say she got her way every single time, she didn't and still doesn't. There is a fine line between indulging and simply realizing that a child of that age needs parental attention. In those moments we would redirect her attention elsewhere, like to a different toy that we hadn't been playing with or to a book, as those usually keep her very well occupied.

I have heard both sides of the cry it out methodology. Some swear by it while some believe it's barbaric. You have to determine what you will be comfortable with.

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I've read that whenever we vocalize, some part of our ears closes a little bit automatically, in order to protect our eardrums. This is thought to be the reason why our voice sounds so different when it's recorded and played back to us. Anyway, the 115 dB measured in front of the baby might be less in the baby's ears. –  Ana Mar 4 at 18:23
    
Most of why you hear yourself differently is bone conduction. Bone conduction works primarily with the lower portion of the register; so you usually sound much lower to yourself directly than via a recording. See wikipedia for more information. –  Joe Mar 5 at 22:47
    
@Ana, I just did a pretty extensive report on hearing loss and at no point in my research did I read that our outer ear had a closing mechanism to block sound. Loss of hearing from damage to the eardrum typically stems from a rapid increase or decrease in pressure (blunt force trauma over the hear, pressure changes from large explosions, etc.) and usually it repairs itself. Permanent hearing damage stems from damage to tiny hair like cells (called hair cells) in our cochlea. Continuous noise is the main cause of hair cell damage due to the vibration causing the hair cell to uproot. –  ChristopherW Mar 5 at 23:34
    
@ChristopherW, I read this in a book called Auditory Neuroscience, which is also my area of research. I'm not into ear anatomy so I forget which bit it is, but the mechanism does exist. –  Ana Mar 5 at 23:55
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Sharing what worked for us to stop the high amplitude screaming:

We recorded a lullaby in our own voice on our phone and played it to her, this causes her to think that someone is around and she attentively listened to the lullaby , this also helped her to fall asleep. At times this did not work and the only thing which always worked was lifting her and strolling her around.

Using other kinds of Music etc did not help at all though only our voice worked. It seems she loves to be talked with.

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I had similar experience. There are three good reasons for a baby to scream: hunger, dirty diapers and sickness. You already have confirmed none of these apply, because the kid stop screaming when you are with her.

So she is just playing arm wrestling with your nerves. Better not let her win...

When I had this kind of manifestation with our first, I forced his mother and grand-mother (both crying) to go away from home for at least 20 mn, I closed the door and sat there doing nothing, starring blankly at the floor. Waited 10 minutes, which seemed like hours. Then the kid stopped screaming. Then I sneaked in his room, he was playing alone and smiled to me behind the tears.

I can't say kid never screamed again, but at least I know I can endure it, and the kid knows it too, and the mother, and the grand-mother.

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@balancedmama it depends, not for hours obviously but the important point is to show the kid you are a loving partent, not a kind of "come here immediately" slave. Same idea as answer by Rory Alsop. –  Guillaume Jan 2 at 2:49
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Letting your kid scream for ten minutes while you silently wait on the other side of the bedroom door is a far cry from saying, "wait a minute" from across the same room - at six months even if the reasoning behind the action is about the same. –  balanced mama Jan 2 at 14:04
    
Hmm "forced" the mom out? I think you both need to be on the same page or find a compromise for parenting. –  Rhea Jan 5 at 10:34
    
Yes, "forced", because she was loosing her self-control. She agreed with me before that we had to do this. But with her baby crying she was not herself anymore so i had to "force" a bit. I was crying inside too, mind you, but sometime you shan't hear this inside voice. –  Guillaume Jan 6 at 1:46
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this sounds like a young couple where both parents had a role and stuck to it. @Rhea they were both absolutely on the same page, otherwise mama wouldn't have let dada take over at the point when she couldn't handle it. That's what they call teamwork. Allowing the kid to cry it out is what they call being in charge (was the kid ever in danger? doesn't sound like it.) End result? Kid doesn't cry any more to get what he wants. Enormous downline implications. I dunno about "better not let her win" but the point is that you have to establish boundaries even with a baby that can't even crawl yet. –  monsto Jan 6 at 6:07
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