26/09/2014 10:22 BST | Updated 25/11/2014 05:59 GMT

Do It to a Baby, It's Recommended, Do It to the Elderly, It's Heartbreaking

My elderly aunt was crying the other night. Quite a lot actually. She even made herself sick at one point.

I rolled her to one side while I changed the sheet underneath her as quickly as I could.

I didn't speak to her, look at her, hold her or offer her a glass of water. I didn't want to get her hopes up or let her think she might be cuddled or listened to.

Was that OK?

No? What was I thinking? How could I have done such a thing?

Don't worry. I didn't, I'm just trying to illustrate a point.

What happens if we flip the above scenario on its head? Let's switch the weak and dependent elderly aunt for a baby who's only means of communication is crying.

Let's throw in loads of parenting experts, doctors and well-meaning randoms who claim the crying baby is being manipulative and spoilt by the mother who picks him up. That the baby should be left to their misery - and their sick - no matter the instincts of their parents. Experts like this one;


What wisdom do these experts have that a mother whose instincts are hardwired by evolution doesn't have? What makes them think they know better than the baby's own flesh and blood?

As parents, my husband and I slept-walked through most of the sleep issue. We had our ideals. But we also had wobbly moments of doubt in the middle of the night and struggled to find a balance that was right for us. We got through it, but not because of any magic formula or expert advice - what worked for us probably seemed mad to other people.

Likewise, what you did is your business and I'm not about to judge.

But let's spare a thought for the vulnerable parents out there who are struggling to work out what's best for them. Phrases such as;

'You will have to be strong-minded not to scoop him into your arms and comfort him' imply that a mother's instincts are wrong and must be ignored. That failing to do so is weak and a failure. Hardly empowering, is it?

Not to mention parents who are struggling to bond with their baby or suffering from Post Natal Depression. Standing outside their baby's bedroom door listening to her cry herself sick is fuel for anxiety, guilt, attachment issues and misery, surely?

From a moral point of view, I find it bizarre that same treatment can be perceived so differently - depending on the age of the people concerned. Riddle me this; a woman caring for two generations might be advised to let her newborn cry till he makes himself sick, yet at the same time be reported to the authorities for not responding to the cries of an elderly parent in her care.

I'm not going in to what I think is right. I'm just wondering what's going on in this scenario - except a lot of noise? What's it all about? And who the hell decides?

Parenting Experts. Who are they? The clue is in the name...