Please don’t let your baby cry
This Is my very first blog post and I already know it’s not going to be popular. You might think that this is yet another post telling sleep-deprived guilty-feeling parents what they should also be doing. So no – this is not another thing you should be doing – this is the most important thing you should be doing.
No matter what most of us are doing, we will not be able to dramatically change our children. Every mother with more than one child can tell you that by the time a baby is born she already has her own personality, that doesn’t change much throughout her childhood. The author of “freakonomics” shows that it’s less important what we do as parents, and backs it up with his statistical analysis.
We can’t change our children, but we can change ourselves and how they are with us. We can teach our children about relationships, and how they are being treated in them. Research shows that initial relationships with a significant caregiver influences future relationships. People tend to seek the same dynamics later in life – with spouses and friends. Helping our child feel loved, and respected will allow her feel more confident, happier to experiment and learn and be more resilient in the face of a crisis when it occurs. It will also lead her to reproduce this feeling in other relationship she will form with others.
How can we show love and respect in our relationship with our babies that cannot understand words? With timely sensitive responses – helping babies with what they need, as fast as possible. This eventually will lead to “secure attachment” that is correlated with greater success in life across all domains.
Crying is a baby’s last resort. A baby can signal her needs up to a point, but if her needs are not being fulfilled, crying is the next and last available tool she can use. A baby is helpless and requires our help for everything, and crying is her “doom’s day” weapon.
Emotional cry has two functions: releasing endorphins that make us feel better and alleviate pain, and the disposal of toxins such as stress hormones through the tears. When we do not attend a crying child, her stress levels go even higher, and a swab test of the saliva shows significant amounts of the stress hormones being present.
Stress hormones are not a good thing for your baby to have. It impairs brain development and a consistent exposure
to it might lead to depression, and other physiological issues.
Babies don’t need to cry. They signal when they are hungry, upset or uncomfortable and the causes can be addressed *before* they start crying. There is no need for them to cry to develop their lungs and you are definitely not spoiling them by attending to them when they do cry.
Your baby will cry. Even if you spend every waking hour attending to your baby, never leaving her sight – she will still cry. She will be in pain – if she got hurt or have gas, and sometimes you will not be able to do anything to help her with her problem – maybe because she is crying in the back seat, and you can’t pull over on a high way, or because she is getting vaccinated and you can’t help the pinch.
It will not be perfect, but it can be good enough.
Your baby will not necessarily be a genius just because you will not let her cry. She will, however, develop slightly better and faster, she will be more confident, more resilient, a bit happier and will cry less as time goes by, and communicate her needs more. She will know she is loved and respected. She will know she can trust you to help her when she needs it, which in turn will allow her to experiment more, and hence learn faster and be open to new experiences.
Evolution knew all this when it made us hate a child’s cry. Many parents feel physical pain when they hear their little babies cry, and all they want is to make it stop. We are programmed to respond and attend to our crying babies. Our instinct is to listen to our baby’s needs. But with the pressure of modern life, and the lack of support from the “village” – we find it hard to attend to our babies in a way that will minimize our baby’s crying. Sometimes we even make it worst. We want the baby to sleep all night, or start taking a bottle and we try to “break” her. We let her cry, until she understands there is no point in resisting and gives in. It works, but is it the right thing to do? We are stronger, and she is helpless – should we really try and break her? A different process with consistent response to her needs will take longer, no doubt, but it might cause less damage in the long run.
What I am suggesting requires hard work. I know. The amount of time and effort that is required to minimize a baby’s cry is significant. It might pay off in the long run with a happier, more confident adult and even have benefits in the short run such as the lack of tantrums and the verbal requests babies make early on with this approach, but it is not easy. What I do – to keep up – is to let go in other areas – my house can definitely be cleaner, and I can invest more time cooking fancier food for my family – but that’s how it is – Not perfect – just good enough, and where it matters.
Please don’t let your baby cry.