Many new parents ask, “Should I just let my baby cry?”
The answer is no, definitely not.
You may be aware of this, but if not, then human babies cry. A lot. For any parent it can be overwhelming, annoying and even depressing. Sometimes it can seem as though they are crying about nothing at all, but simply for affection.
This has led to a myth developing that newborn’s and babies are simply attention hungry, and that the best way to break this behaviour is by teaching them that their crying will not be rewarded with any comfort.
This is not true at all though! Your baby is crying they are very, very vulnerable, much more so than the young of almost any other animal. They cannot move, or feed themselves, or even study their surroundings.
They are completely reliant on you, and crying is a baby’s main method of communication. They cry when they are hungry, when they are lonely, irritated, tired, cold, frightened or confused.
Babies cannot learn to manipulate their parents by crying until they are around 9 months old, so your newborn is not testing the limits of your patience; they are simply desperate to know you are nearby in case they need you.
Ignoring them will not teach them to stop crying, as this is behaviour created by millions of years of evolution. Instead, it will just make them more stressed, because they will believe that there is no one to help them. For any vulnerable newborn, this is not good news and they will likely just cry more, desperate to know there is someone nearby.
Adult humans are also designed to become stressed and worried at the sound of a baby’s cries, so the more your infant cries, the more stressed you will become too.
So, it’s all well and good talking about why you need to respond to a crying baby, but for the tired parent going for their tenth desperate cuddle of the day in the hopes of quieting a little one it can seem a hopeless task.
After making sure they are not hungry, in need of a nappy change, or ill, here are some ideas you can use to help to bring the crying under control:
Rock them gently, in a rocking basket, chair or by holding them and swaying from side to side.
Gently stroke their head and back. You can also pat their back and chest very gently, as this can help them release gas.
Singing, talking softly or playing calming music. The sound of fans, washing machines and other white noise can be very useful to help soothe them. There are lots of free white noise apps that you can use. We’ve found that heart beat white noise has worked well for the mums here at Clair De Lune.
Swaddling your newborn can be a great source of comfort as it helps to create the security that they felt when they were in mum’s tummy. Our cellular blankets are a great essential blanket to keep on hand for this. And if your baby gets upset at night time and they kick off their blankets, sleeping bags also create the same feeling of security
Take them for a car ride – the noise and vibrations can help lull them into sleep.
Going on a walk can get you both out of the house, and help to quieten your baby.
Giving them a warm bath, although be aware that this can actually upset some babies, so you’ll have to see how your little one handles it. It may help, but it may be worth avoiding if it causes more stress.
We hope one of these will help you out. Just remember that ignoring your child is no solution. Trust us, we know how miserable your little one’s crying can become. But part of your responsibility as a parent is making sure you child knows it is safe and you are nearby, even if that means lots and lots of cuddles, singing and car rides!
Don’t forget to share with us on social media how you get your baby to stop the tears! What works for you could help another parent after all.
We’re always on hand if you need any help or advice – contact us via Live Chat or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.