Baby Hints & Tips

Can Babies really manipulate you?

babies-manipulateCan babies really manipulate you so to speak? When im trying to get my 8th month old to sleep for the past 3 nights ive been using controlled crying method as other setteling methods such as patting them stroking are fine however my DS stares at me waiting for eye contact and smiles and just doesn’t stop wriggling and will not give up and go to sleep no matter how long I wait with him.

  •  He loves you and wants to be with you. Personally I think controlled crying is cruel. He’s just a baby, so you get less sleep and are tired, you’ll survive. He’s only little for such a short time, hug him, play with him. You won’t regret it. Maybe he’s just not tired yet. Try starting bedtime routine a little later.   Babies at this age don’t have the mental capacity to manipulate you- that takes a lot of planning and reasoning and an 8 month old simply cannot do this. 8 months is the time that babies are just starting to understand cause and effect- in it’s very, very basic sense. Just be aware that it’s an important time when bubs need to feel safe and secure because he’s coming into a time of heightened emotional needs as he’s getting ready to move around, he will have heightened attachment needs- he needs to know that you are close by and available to comfort him to feel safe and secure- that’s not a moral opinion, it’s just facts of human development in the first year. It’s a really great question by the way- so important to ask this stuff rather than just assume bubs is manipulating you which is what some parents do. All the very best, Angie   Lisa
  • Crying expresses a need for attachment, closeness, empathy, compassion, support, loving presence, regulation – no matter what age you are. When a baby cries, it NEEDS someone to come and be with it. That is the whole point! Crying indicates that a baby is dysregulated. A baby cannot self regulate. They are not designed to be able to even begin to do this until around age three … and from then on, it is a developmental, experience-based skill. Babies rely on external support from a loving, responsive caregiver, to regulate their system. If nobody comes when they cry, babies give up … they enter what is called dorsal vagal shutdown. They dissociate. Which is why, when they cry, they NEED someone to come …   Anne
  • There is no such thing as manipulation until significantly later in life. It is an advanced cognitive skill and your baby needs a solid handle on understanding cause and effect well before then. He smiles when he sees you because he loves you.   Lou
  • No. Your baby just wants you close. Humans still have our instincts from the cave man days. To sleep alone was a death sentence, you’d get eaten. He’s not manipulating you, he just needs you right now. Sleep takes 2 years to mature, this website has good info on sleep research and helps with realistic expectations on sleep. Www.isisonline.org.uk. No one went to their death bed wishing they hadn’t held their baby so long. Is baby actually tired when you put them to bed? Have you tried music and white noise? Will baby sleep if on you or in your bed. We found a sidecar cot really helpful. Everyone got sleep with no tears.   Kimmy
  • No they do not manipulate, he simply doesn’t know that he is expected to go to sleep on cue.   Kahlia
  • Absolutely not. That part of the brain has not developed by 8m. Babies don’t manipulate they communicate.
    Do you fall asleep as soon as you get in bed? It can be hard for their little brains to switch off just like ours, and at 8 months they go through not only a huge Wonder Week, but a big understanding of separation (which can cause anxiety), teething, learning to crawl, even walk, and learning all these new skills can make it very hard to relax at bed time. Also, there is loads of research coming out showing how detrimental CC can be – their tiny bodies flood with Cortisol, the stress hormone, which can do long term damage. They don’t understand and give up hope anyone is coming back  Try and be patient and comfort him. He is crying because all he wants is to be close to his mummy. He will only be little for a short time, better to regret a lack of sleep than a lack of cuddles! Have a look at www.thewonderweeks.com – it really helped me understand exactly what was going on with the changes!
    Good luck mama xxx.   Lauren
  • I wont comment on the word manipulation because I just don’t know… but I was told by our pediatrician that as young as 3 months they can begin to suss out scenarios that are beneficial for / to them. They quickly know what gets them what they want. My daughter will scream out & as soon as she hears footsteps into the hall stops & smiles. Lately she is putting on the most hilarious cough & as soon as I say “you ok?” Laughs & smiles. If I don’t look at her while I’m feeding her she kicks me. As soon as I look at her she stops. Results! my daughter is 8.5 mo & I reckon they know all too well what you will do when they do certain things… Cause & effect.   Laura
  • No mumma, he isn’t manipulating you, at least not in the sense that we as adults understand. He is, however, trying to get what ever it is he needs or wants from you. You are his world and smiling when you make eye contact shows this is a pleasurable experience for him. Cuddle him just a little longer, all too soon he won’t need you as much. Enjoy your little man xxx   Megan
  • My 11 month old daughter will scream when her dad puts her to bed because she knows if she does he’ll take her out of bed and let her stay up but if I put her to bed we don’t have a problem. It is because she knows that I will pick her up give her a cuddle and put her back to bed. It kinda sucks cos it means when I’m exhausted he can’t even get up to her on weekends like he did with our son because as soon as he walks in there she thinks it’s party time. So I would say yes kids are capable of playing you.   Jade
  •  Studies have shown that this is instinct for babies. (Can’t remember the name of the doco I saw). They seek out eye contact and smile to get you to smile back. They like to see you happy and interacting with them. It’s not manipulation.   Kat
  • babies do not manipulate..they are not capable of thinking like we do as adults in that manner… babies just respond to what is going on for them in that moment.   Jamie
  • No way! He loves You n needs you. Never feel like you shouldn’t cuddle your babies. they grow so quick and need lots of love and cuddles to help develop all the neuron pathways and develop emotionally. Read some info by dr sears. He will teach you gentle methods that will not have a negative effect on their development and you will meet all their needs.   Dianne
  • No they cannot and do not manipulate. They rely on their parents for security, stability and comfort.   Carolyn
  • I think that people get scared of the phrase “Controlled Crying” but you, as his mum know best which ‘sort’ of cry he is doing and if he is just grizzly, or if he is becoming distressed (and of course try not to let them get to that point) My only real advice to you is to read all the advice that you are given, then filter it and use whatever will work for you and your family. And always remember, you are doing a wonderful job!!!!   Rachel
  • I think they do understand more than we give them credit for! My 8 month old daughter already has her Dad sussed. She has this one cry and look that she has given up using on me but gets her Dad every time lol. She isn’t a fan of tummy time and will try it with me when I put her down and gives up seconds later but she will lock eyes with her dad and knows it will work!   Biance
  • The solution is simple my dear, don’t make eye contact lol I did CC for my DS from 12 weeks and it took him 3-5 nights and he became the most wonderful self settler n sleeper and still is at almost 2!! Best thing I ever did and he is a beautiful happy n cheeky boy so don’t ever let anyone make u feel bad for using the controlled crying method- it works! When he used to wake for a midnight feed I would also not talks make very little eye contact, just some soothing shhh’s and he would feed and go straight back to sleep without any fuss.   Sierra
  • I find it so interesting that nobody has pointed out the importance of sleep. That is the factor that aids cognitive development to a higher degree than any other. from six weeks old a developed strict bedtime routine (bath.bottle. cuddle. lovely. kiss in bed and mummy smiling and saying “i love u”…then close the door. I have NEVER gone back in and bedtime is not an issue. in the beginning he would try it on…but if u have a persistent baby like mine….nothing else will work.   Rachael
  • You’re his world. He loves you and loves to look at you and be near you.   Emily
  • Try cuddling your baby. They don’t manipulate, they just crave your love and attention. To them, you are their entire world. They don’t understand why they can’t be with you. Don’t worry, one day he will be grown up and gone and then you won’t have to worry about the sleepless nights…..but I promise you, you will wish you had these times over again….Sandi
  • My 5 month old does this hehe. I wouldn’t call it manipulation though. I can’t help but smile back or crack up laughing.   Rosanna
  • No, he is not trying to manipulate you. He just wants you.   Rachael
  • Oh gosh, what a cheeky monkey! I only noticed my boys manipulating me at about 18mths when my husband pointed it out. All they want is our attention and they are very clever. I wouldnt be surprised if your DS is conning extra attention out of you. I found our Child Health Nurse really good for advice too. DS does need to learn that sleep time is sleep time though, be firm and they will get it eventually!   Trina
  • They are not silly lil beings… They know very well that if a cry & scream a big person comes … And some of them are at lot more stubborn about it then others….. This is where you have to be strong &’firm & stick to to the “no talk no eye contact, no interaction” rule….. The sooner they realise they can “take advantage” the easier it is for mummy… And they will continue to test this boundary…. Keep strong & they need to know who’s boss Sending loads of universal hugs & strength.   Sherree
  • I’ve worked with children for over 15 years & can’t get over how parents consistently underestimate their children. They are learning new skills everyday: eye-hand coordination, crawling, how to make distinct sounds etc. you really think they’re not learning how to try to get what they want? Pfffttt! They are smart little chickens & they figure it out pretty darn quick lol!   Adriana
  • Nope!! He just wants his mummy and eye contact is how he know you love him. Just enjoy the cuddles cos they grow so quick and won’t want them anymore way too soon!   Jemma
  • I believe that some children are smart enough to use manipulation to get what they want… My 3rd baby even started vomiting in his cot as a way to get out, once we worked that out and started changing him in the cot, he stopped the vomiting. This child is now almost 4 and is still trying to get his own way.   Katie
  • Babies can not manipulate!! They simply want & need love, comfort and soothing…   Tara
  • I think they can to a degree, I feel my 7 month old is doing it to me at the moment, particularly when he’s meant to sleep. I think he knows exactly what he wants and I’ve Definately experienced a tantrum lol. They’re clever little things. Renee
  • I discovered that once I did the exact same thing each night he understood that it was bedtime. Good luck.   Susan
  • I wouldn’t call it manipulate but they’re a lot smarter than people give credit for.   Tegan
  • Umm… Might be because she didn’t ask for urs or anyone else’s opinions on controlled crying and what u have said will make her second guess her way of bringing up her own child which no one else gets a say in… It’s non of ur business if she uses the CC method or not and u have no right to make her feel bad for doing it that way. Not just u, everyone else trying to point out why THEY think controlled crying is wrong and throwing in all the other psychological BS I have proof non of it is true and all my family is in the same boat and we all turned out just fine so how bout u keep ur opinion about that to urself and only answer her question on the manipulation factor if u have no other positive advice to offer.   Sierra
  • No! He’s a baby, he’s designed to feel safest with you. He loves you & wants to be with you. Babies are not manipulative!   Gabrielle
  • It makes me cranky when people associate a baby as manipulative. How can a small baby be responsible for someone else’s feelings? I associate the behavior above as the baby saying “bond with me, hug me, comfort me”   Renee
  • I think they are smart enough to know how to get your attention not necessarily manipulate. The best thing I ever did was teaching my daughter to self settle. Unfortunately I do sometimes feel that you have to give some tough love, especially if they’re playing games with you.   Amanda
  • No. Its not manipulation. Babies are just seeking love and security.   Jodie
  • Sorry but when did everyone become baby experts? How can you be certain that babies are not capable of some form of “manipulation” if that’s what you want to call it. It’s really frustrating … Rant over but mumma if you think that maybe bubs is playing you a bit you may be right. I’m absolutely certain there’s no malice in it but I do think babies are capable of working a situation to their advantage. Go with your gut and parent how you want to.   Shannon
  • Manipulation may be a strong word but they certainly know how to test the boundaries. They are more switched on than we give them credit for. And there is nothing wrong with controlled crying – crying it out is completely different but when you know you’ve ticked off every box and bubs is still fussing I don’t think there is any harm in a little stepping back and seeing if they can work it out. What else are we supposed to do if all boxes are ticked??   Shannon
  • The term manipulate sounds bad but yes in a way they can and do. They know you will do what always do. So if you always cave and pick them up or eventually engage then they will do what they know how to do to get this. It’s human behaviour we learn how to get what we want by being taught. I don’t believe I controlled crying or crying it out. My son wants me I will be there. Until he is old enough to communicate with in words and reason his cry is his way of telling me what’s wrong and I refuse to ignore it. Will I be setting myself up for longer hard nights for a longer time… Probably but my son will know I will be there when he needs me. So yes I rock him to sleep and feed him to sleep but it works for us and he is secure.   Tracey
  • In short, no.   Natalie
  • Natural instinct to be close to mummy isn’t manipulative.   Crystal
  • An 8 month old cannot manipulate. Children learn this much later on. Save our sleep is amazing it helped so many people I know. Routine routine routine is very important. How is a baby supposed to know what they are meant to do if they are being put in bed at different times or with things always happening differently it would be very confusing to them. The smallest thing like for example in the mornings I take my 2 older children to school and we come home. I let my 11 month old play for about 10 mins, I change her nappy, I put her sleeping bag on, dummy in, bunny to cuddle, lay her in her cot and turn her mobile on. She knows this routine well and know that when these things happen this means it’s time to sleep. No fuss, just sleep. It’s been built up from the drive to school and back, then the play then by the nappy change she knows the things that are to come. I started her in a routine at 7 and a half months sleeping in her own bed being bottle fed.Before that I was “attachment parenting” she would sleep with me and I would breastfeed with her whenever she wanted. Every parent is different and what’s good for one parent/baby/family might not work with another. It will take you about 5 days of doing it for baby to start to realise the signs. Good luck and I hope you get lots of great advice.   Rachel
  • Sounds like he is a playful bubba, maybe he just doesn’t want to sleep. Enjoy the time just looking and smiling at each other.   Mel
  • Yes I believe they can. And they always test you and soon work out who will give in the easiest.    Amy
  • My son throws his dummy out of his cot and then screams for it so we have to come back in to give it back to him.   Sherilee
  • I am in the same boat even if i leave the room i hear him laughing and having the time of his life.   Emma
  • We went to sleep school, if there is one near you I would highly recommend it. Your MCHN or GP should be able to refer you. Good luck!   Sara
  • It’s always interesting when people present their opinion as if its fact. People are always going to tell you what worked for them, which can be great for trying new things. Don’t get caught up in the judgement and really just go with what you feel is right – you already know, you just need some reassurance.   Wendy
  • Omg yes! Had 2 horror months of holding to sleep my 7mth old. Last night patted her and shh’d her back to sleep after I knew nothing was wrong and she finally slept in her cot. I know now her waking was totally habit. I’m guessing a few more nights of tougness from me and I hope we will get back to normal!   Sheree
  • Manipulating you? Perhaps another way of looking at it is telling you what he needs. He gets eye contact and smiles? Sounds like he wants connection with you. Pretty simple. Just give your baby what he needs.   Carlie
  • Hahaaaa I have thought so many times.. don’t think we will ever know!   Jodie
  • Yep. They are pretty smart little monkeys. Mine does the same. My hubby gives bubs a cuddle and holds him tight so he can’t move. Tried it last night and worked a treat. Other thing that works for me is no lights. All this happens in the dark including any night feeds (no distractions). Good luck!   Kay
  • Omg my daughters the same and she’s 8 months!   Meg
  • I don’t think manipulate is the right word but children and babies are so much smarter than anyone gives them credit for. She knows to push your buttons and get what she wants and is playing games. That’s why they say don’t make eye contact or talk at night etc.   Michelle
  • Ah it’s so cute and so frustrating!!! And rather hard not to laugh and engage right back!!! I find that when my 6 month old does this he isn’t quite ready to sleep or hasn’t got his sleep cue…. Sometimes it’s a re-wrap, put music on again, maybe more boob? Maybe check his nappy and temp and adjust if needed? maybe more cuddles and pats in arms before he goes down and sometimes I give up and he comes to lie down with me in bed with hands on quiet time in there and he will drift off…This doesn’t help with your CIO technique though!!! Yes I agree- they know how to get you near them from day one… Little darlings…   Evelyn
  • Create routine. Kids thrive on routine. Keep doing the same thing over and youll get a good reaction. When he smiles just keep doing what your doing.   Debbie
  • My son went through a phase of needing to be rocked to sleep. I just couldn’t get him to sleep without it. It lasted maybe 3-4 weeks. I think he just needed the extra cuddles. Then he just stopped needing it. I would still do everything the same bit not rock him and just put him in his cot and he was fine. I’ve always tried to have a bit of a routine and will put him in his cot roughly the same time everyday for naps. Sometimes he falls straight to sleep, other times he’ll chat to himself for up to 30 mins. I only check on him if he starts crying. Just take your cues from bub. I don’t think he’s manipulating you, I just think he’s working everything out and sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming for them.   Nadia
  • My child health nurse said not to make eye contact at night, but my 11wk DS hates no eye contact! As soon as I’m settling him I make eye contact and it calms him straight away. I feel he needs that reassuring look & then he knows it’s ok to sleep.   Kelly
  • Yes… They use all they communication skills and learn how you react so they can repeat when needed.   Jemima
  • Personally if my bubs wouldn’t sleep and obliviously I would need rest. I would just co sleep. From mummy of 3 boys x   Zarah
  • We normally read a couple books with our little girl so she can relax and still get that fun interaction with us during the bedtime routine. Then lights go of, we sing to her and stroke her head to relax her more. Than into her bed she goes. We use the cry it out method because its just her complaining. She normally will complain maybe for the first 4-6 mins. I check her every 5 minutes and sing to her again and usually close my eyes so I feel relaxed and look as if i am going to sleep. If I am relaxed she relaxes quicker. Takes max 10 mins and she is asleep. Since we use this method every night she never seems to feel the need to try and continue playing or sitting up. She knows its bed time, she may complain but she still lays down and cuddles teddy if I give him to her (teddy is last measure if she is over tired haha)   Nicole
  • Have you tried putting your baby on their side and patting them facing away from you? They know how to get what they what.   Nic
  • No. It’s natural for babies to want to connect with the most important person/people in their life. They’re learning to feel safe, but can only do so in connection with you.   Tracey
  • 8 month olds do go through q sleep regression. My son was going to bed at 10pm when he was was 8months. I’m also not a fan of cry it out and don’t use that method on my 2yo. Just keep patting his back to sleep and if he plays work out wait a few minutes go back in. That’s how I taught my son to self settle now at almost 2.5 he wants to be cuddled to sleep and he’s never been a cuddly kid. I also walk out if he’s not settling and just playing then go back in when he cries or gets out of bed.   Caro
  • I wouldn’t say they manipulate you at that age. He just knows that if he does A you will do B. it’s a basic human skill. But no he’s not manipulating you….yet.   Carmel  
  • Umm no. A child like sort of manipulation yes. These people who think babies are just babies….yeah, they are. But they learn. It is a human’s skill to adapt and learn. All animals do. If we didn’t, we’d die. Simple. He is playing with you. He has it in his mind that when he smiles and plays…it’s cute…it gets more attention. Just like babies who are rushed to every time they make a sound learn that if they cry it warrants attention. Try not the controlled crying but find out what diverts his attention. My son loved our fisher price fish music thing. He could push it if he woke up during the night and the soft music and gentle lights he would put himself back to sleep. But for the first 6 months I was that helicopter mother that would go and see him at every noise. I learned. He learned. My daughter I learned if I was in the room she would refuse to sleep. I would make her comfortable, wrap her, make sure she was fed and dry. Then put her down, dummy, pat for a few minutes, stroke her hair, put that fish music box on and leave the room. She would sleep for 8 hours from 9 weeks.   Caszie
  • Try and avoid eye contact.   Pam
  • I found my boy loves to be cuddled not really for sleep but contact. I found he would sleep better if he was in bed with no toys for distraction. He would just play and chat to me when I cuddled him or turn over if I was patting him to sleep.   Sarah
  • No not yet. They don’t understand enough you manipulate. Try leaving the room as you being there might be distracting him from trying to settle himself. I’ve had many issues with trying to get mine to sleep and the best advice I can give is be consistent. If you want to pat stick with that or vice versa.     Susan
  • I wouldn’t call it manipulation, but rather them learning boundaries. My daughter went through a period where she wouldn’t go to sleep and would play with our hands/faces etc if we looked at her when we tried to settle her. When we averted her eyes she got bored and went to sleep. If she continued to be happy and playful in our arms we’d put her in bed and walk out of the room to teach her that it’s not playtime.   Amanda
  • He’s just trying to get the attention he needs from you. Controlled crying is a horrible thing to put a baby through, if you need sleep advice try reading pinky mckay’s sleeping like a baby she has fantastic insight and advice. It’s not manipulation he’s just doing all he knows to get the response he needs.   Brooke
  • They definitely understand cause and effect at that age. For example, at sleep school they taught us that if we went in to try & settle DD to try and do it during a lull in the crying because if you go in when they are at full steam they can associate making lots of noise with your arrival & start to think that is what they need to do to get what they want. I wouldn’t say it’s manipulation as such but babies are innately selfish beings, it’s a natural survival instinct from being born so helpless, and they are pretty smart at getting things their own way.   Helen
  • Mine is exactly the same, I use a musical lullaby animal that shines stars on the roof and he grizzles for a bit but usually drifts off within a few minutes. I still use that routine now and he’s almost 15 months and if I’m in the room he refuses to sleep.   Dotti
  • No, they just want their cup of love to be filled up. It’s our job to.   Fiona
  • With my little boy I just keep putting him back down and walk out the room. And say goodnight. If he starts crying etc, I go back in and help him resettle. Tuck him in etc, dummy, music on sleep sheep. I personally do not believe in control crying I think it’s cruel. I have been doing the same thing since my baby was a newborn he has slept through most nights since he was 9 days old except for teething which in the last few weeks he sometimes wakes 10 times but after resettling he falls straight back to sleep. I don’t sometimes though lol! There is a thing called circle of security that babies learn what is safe and what they can do and know their mummy’s or carer will come get them if in trouble so when they cry and are comforted they know they are ok. It actually creates more confidence in them and greater independence so I guess the opposite of control crying. I found consistency the key to helping me same bedtime more or less and settling routine. He actually looks forward to sleep but sometimes I can go back in and he is laying there playing with his dummy and smiles and laughs when I come in. It just makes me smile. I say go to sleep and leave again. Good luck and as someone else said is wonder week time and there may be teething too!   Belinda
  • Of course they can. Perhaps ‘manipulate’ is a bit of a harsh word but they certainly know that if they do certain things you’ll react. Controlled crying works but it’s hard. I’m going through it now …as I’m typing actually!     Linda

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