After your baby is born, no matter how prepared you are, a baby’s continuous wailing can really unnerve you. And trying to decipher the reason behind your baby’s crying is an arduous task. I always wished if there was a baby language interpreter to translate what they are trying to say.
You may rush to pick up your baby to swaddle it or soothe it. But one familiar advice you will always get when you pick a crying baby is – Let the baby cry, it is good for the lungs.
But is it really good to let the baby cry for long? Does it really help in the development of the baby’s lungs?
NO. Allowing babies to cry does no good to them either physically or emotionally.
Crying is a baby’s way of communicating its need. Your baby might be hungry or wet or just wants to be with you or it might just want to cry without any reason.
Crying is a baby’s language designed for its survival, as they cannot verbalize its needs. If you pay attention to your baby’s cries, you can observe that its cries and corresponding actions are different for different needs.
My daughter used to scratch her head and cry if hungry. She used to cry looking around if she didn’t see me for some time.
And yes, babies can cry at any time of the day, as they do not have the mental ability to think that mommy should not be disturbed at night. They will let you know of their needs, through crying at any time of the day.
Sometimes, crying is a stress-release mechanism for the babies. There can be several sources of stress for the babies such as birth trauma, prenatal stress, unfulfilled needs (e.g. to be held), separation from parents, new experiences, frustration trying to master a new skill etc.
Babies cry to heal from the stress they have experienced. Babies who regularly release their accumulated stress, are generally calm and content.
Crying is a very good indication that your baby is communicating with you. Only if it cries, you will know that it needs something and try to fulfill it. This helps the baby to grow physically and emotionally.
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Should you allow your baby to cry to its heart’s content and not soothe it?
Well NO. Your baby is crying to communicate with you and not to manipulate you.
And yes, babies do have fussy periods where they cry non-stop and not responding to it at that time, may not give your child the sense of security and comfort it requires at that time. Not soothing a crying baby does not ensure that it will cry less in the future. Many research conducted has shown that not responding to a crying baby has a negative effect on the child. The baby is more likely to give up on their need and stop crying if they realize that crying is not worthwhile.
When your baby doesn’t cry to communicate its needs, it may fail to thrive. A child’s growth is not just about gaining height and weight, it also refers to developing social and emotional skills appropriate to their age. Not responding to a child’s cry makes it lose trust that someone will address their need. This important ingredient called ‘trust’, is very much essential in developing the child-parent bond.
Also Read: How to manage bottle feeding when traveling?
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There is no research that has confirmed that crying makes the baby’s lungs stronger.
So Mothers, crying and lungs strengthening have no relation to each other.
The best thing a mother can do is to learn to interpret her baby’s cries. Though it cannot be achieved immediately, it takes a little bit of effort and lots of patience and observation to understand what your baby needs.
When your baby cries, pick it up and soothe it or feed it or do whatever you can to make it feel comfortable. Learn to identify whether your little one is crying for a need or to release stress. If it is crying for a need, check if it is hungry or wet or needs to be held. If it is crying to release stress, hold the baby to offer comfort in such situations.
Comforting your child when it cries might make it more calm and easy going as it grows. It will develop a feeling of trust and security in the child when it knows that its parents will be there to provide nourishment, security, and comfort, and it need not cry always to grab their attention.
A child which grows up in a secure and comfortable environment will grow up to be an emotionally stable adult and will extend the same warm and comfortable environment to its progeny. Listening and responding to a child’s cry will make you sensitive to its needs. It gives confidence to the parents to raise future kids also, in an effortless manner.
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A newborn does not have the mental acumen to resort to cries to demand unnecessary attention from parents. If a newborn is crying, then it definitely indicates that it genuinely needs something.
Throughout their infancy i.e. up to one year of age, babies cry to communicate. Until then always respond immediately to their cries. As they grow, they develop the ability to communicate verbally or through actions. At this juncture, they may stop using crying as a means of communication.
As babies grow, they develop the mental acumen to understand their surroundings and also demand undivided attention from their parents. As children grow, sometimes they resort to crying to make the parents fulfill their needs and not as a means of communicating. Trust your parental instincts in those times. If you think that they are communicating demands and not needs, you can choose to take appropriate action.
So Ladies, never ever ignore your little one’s cries. There is no bigger myth than thinking that crying helps your baby’s lungs strengthen and develop better. By ignoring your crying baby, you are depriving it of its needs, and also creating an emotional distance between your baby and you.
Ignoring a baby’s cry creates a lose-lose situation for both – your baby loses trust in you as a caregiver, and you as a caregiver lose your ability to be sensitive to the baby’s needs.
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