Lies and Damn Lies: Babies Cry for No Reason

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baby-crying-cribThere are lots of things that parents are told today that drive me nuts.  Ranging from the ridiculous notion that leaving a baby to cry will teach them self-soothing (it may get them to be quiet and sleep, but it is definitely not self-soothing) to the equally wrong idea that we need to teach our kids they aren’t the centre of the universe by ignoring them, these ideas centre on one premise that needs to be addressed: Babies will sometimes cry for no good reason.

I’ve heard people explicitly tell mothers that if they know the baby isn’t hungry or in pain or tired or in need of a diaper change that their babies’ cries don’t mean anything and they can ignore them.  This fallacy (yes, it is a fallacy) is the basis for most of the non-responsive parenting techniques that get advocated for today.  Sometimes it’s so an expert can sell a book, but sometimes it even comes from the most well-meaning of programs aiming to reduce things like infant abuse or shaken baby syndrome.  Regardless of the source, though, the message remains wrong.

And it has to stop.

Every time a baby cries, he or she is trying to communicate.  There is no time in which babies just cry for the heck of it.  There really, honest-to-goodness isn’t.

But my baby isn’t visibly hurt and is clothed, fed and has a clean diaper!

Somewhere along the line, someone (I wish I knew who) seemed to decide that these are the only reasons a baby might cry and if your baby is crying after you’ve checked for injury, fed them, changed them, and made sure they are warm enough then your baby is just crying for the heck of it.  Perhaps they’ll argue your baby is “overtired” and therefore the best thing you can do is just leave him/her alone.  What these people will not tell you is that there are many other reasons your baby may be crying all of which are entirely valid.

Just because you can’t see it or don’t know doesn’t make it not real.

Unfortunately there are lots of reasons that your baby may be in pain and crying without it being visible to the naked eye.  For example,

  • Babies teeth and experience teething pain before the emergence of a tooth and not all babies show the same teething signs (e.g., putting things in the mouth, drooling, etc.) meaning parents may only have the cry to go on;
  • Babies can have silent reflux which means they do not vomit regularly (as with regular reflux) but rather experience a lot of pain every time they eat;
  • Babies are frequently exposed to foods they have sensitivities to such as dairy, wheat, and soy either via formula or mom’s breastmilk (from her ingesting it) which can cause gassiness and stomach cramps, often referred to as colic;
  • Babies experience many growth spurts and these are all painful and while many of us don’t remember these now, some individuals experienced them when they were older and can attest to how awful it is;
  • Babies can have an undiagnosed tongue tie which can inhibit feeding and mean a baby is crying from hunger pain even though s/he seems to be eating regularly; or
  • Babies can experience sleep apnea in which they stop breathing for periods and upon being able to breathe again will often cry from panic and possible pain.

There are also other reasons besides pain that babies will cry to communicate that won’t necessarily be apparent to us right away:

  • Babies get scared from something in the environment, from a bad dream, from any number of things that are scary to young ones that we take for granted;
  • Babies experience separation anxiety which is very common and very frustrating for parents, but it is in this period that babies are learning that their caregivers will be there for them when they need it;
  • Babies get overstimulated in today’s environment – in fact, one hypothesis is that the “twilight cry” that often happens regularly at night is a product of babies being in a modern environment with more stimulation than they have evolved to handle and as such they cry out of stress; and
  • Babies cry when they are too hot or too cold and unfortunately many parents layer babies according to how they feel and have to learn to read their own child’s temperature (for example, I am consistently cold whereas my daughter is the opposite and when she was a baby I had to work hard to overcome my desire to overdress her because I was feeling cold).

As you can see, many of these things that cause crying are things that are not always apparent to parents right away.  As such, it can seem like baby is crying “for no reason”, but really we need to think of it as “we haven’t figured out the reason yet”.

So what is the problem?

The real problem as I see it is that parents expect that they need to be able to understand what every cry means and be able to stop it.  When we fail at this, it is incredibly heart-wrenching and frustrating because the cry has evolved to stimulate us to action.  In these situations, the easiest thing to believe is that the cry means “nothing” so therefore they can feel okay about not being able to fix what’s wrong and in many cases, walk away from the crying baby.  The feelings of helplessness that parents feel at this time lead to anger, frustration, and sometimes a lashing out at the baby for not “cooperating” by not crying.  This is why we see the notion that “babies cry for no reason” as part of campaigns to stop shaken baby syndrome: Letting parents off the hook for not responding to a baby who doesn’t settle will hopefully lead them to avoid frustration.  The problem is that there’s a lot of questions about whether this is effective in the short-term or long-term.

In the short-term, research that I got to listen to at the last conference for the Society of Research in Child Development looked at a state-wide implementation of a program to reduce shaken baby syndrome which included the idea that if you have checked all you can check, that baby is crying “for no reason” and it’s okay to put them down and walk away.  Now, before I continue, let me say that I believe if you are at risk of hurting your baby, you absolutely without doubt need to walk away, but I question if people are prematurely walking away because they now believe there’s nothing they can do.  Regardless, this research found that there was no decrease (and in fact an increase, though that is likely due to other environmental factors such as the declining economy) from the implementation of the program.

In the long-term, we have to ask if this mental schema that parents have about their babies helps them communicate and be responsive and if it helps them feel efficacious in their parenting.  The idea that babies’ cries mean nothing can lead parents to believe that they need not listen to them all the time; it shuts down that communication and in turn, that responsiveness.  I also believe it leads parents to feel less competent at parenting in general as they are basically told that there is nothing they can do to help their babies which is reinforced when they put baby down and walk away.

What’s the solution then?

Let me propose the following: What if parents knew that even if they couldn’t stop the crying at that moment, that their responsiveness, their belief in your child’s cry actually meant your child did not experience a flood of cortisol and that their child is less likely to cry in the long-term?  Both of these things are true[i].  Parents who are responsive to their babies cry regardless of how successful they are at stopping it dampen and can even prevent the cortical stress response from happening.  This is why it is incredibly hard to get a cortical stress response after two months of age in research paradigms: Babies are often tested during events like inoculations where they have a caregiver holding them and comforting them.  (Notably, this should speak strongly about the findings by Dr. Middlemiss and colleagues which found extremely high stress responses in a sample of infants undergoing cry-it-out sleep training.)  Furthermore, the more responsive a parent is to their child’s cry, the less the child cries as time passes.

Would parents be more comfortable not knowing why their baby is crying if they knew they were still having a positive impact on their child by simply holding them while they experience distress?  That they can take their time to try and determine what is causing the crying by looking at the possible reasons and noting the times and events surrounding the crying while still providing comfort?  Or simply allow parents whose children have health problems that cannot be fixed in the moment realize that they can still offer the comfort that is incredibly important to their child’s well-being during an otherwise stressful time?

I for one believe they would.  I believe we would instill a sense a feeling of efficacy at those times when the crying just doesn’t seem to end.  I believe this would allow parents to approach all areas of parenting with a greater understanding of their child, of how to listen to their child to help them, and to realize that they don’t need to be perfect to be helpful.  I also believe it would highlight a lesson in parenting which is often lost in today’s society:  The most important thing you can do as a parent is simply be there.

Our babies don’t cry for no reason.  We may not know the reason and we may not be able to stop the crying at a given moment, but it does not mean we are helpless or cannot help them.  All we need to do is make sure we are there for them.

[Image Credit: Unknown/Please Claim]
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  1. Anna says

    I just had to share here about those growth spurts. I was a very tiny toddler. Did not grow much until much later. Because of late growth spurts that I experienced, I remember very vividly what it was like!!! I could feel my bones pulling on my muscles while growing… I would wake up in the middle if the night, screaming, and wanting my legs to fall off because it was THAT painful! The only thing that helped a bit was my grand parent massaging me all through the episode, bubbling me with alcohol to worm it up. Even pain killers didn’t help that much ;( growth spurts are horrible. And our children need us to be there to help go through the pain!!!!

    • says

      My brother remembers them vividly too as he had a summer of a massive growth spurt once and hearing him in pain and later describing the pain, I realized how bad it actually is. When I think of a baby experiencing that with no comfort, it just breaks my heart :(

    • Shawna G says

      My boys also have painful growth spurts. After talking with their PEDS, we give them liquid iron along with calcium, vitamin D, and their the daily multivitamin. The pain was reduced to barely anything at all after 19 days. Before, we used to give massages, baths, Tylenol/Advil/Motrin for the pain or ice bags. Or in combination. What a difference the iron made! We had to switch PEDS because the first one ignored the pain and what the OT Clinic at the hospital had to say. The second one prescribed the iron and now a world of difference. Both boys can be boys again.

  2. Joanie says

    Great write up. I also wanted to share that as someone who has suffered from insomnia my whole life, I want to add that being tired and not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep and not being able to is VERY frustrating and has sent me into crying jags and panic attacks at all stages of my life. I have witnessed my toddler (who has identical sleep cycles as myself) wanting to sleep but tossing and turning, and bleary eyed and frustrated end up crying. We would have to sit together at 3 am, snacking on yogurt and I would cradle my exhausted little man until eventually he’d pass out. No apparent pain or explanation for not sleeping other than simply not being able to despite trying.

    And there are a million reasons babies and kids would have sleeping issues including diet (if on solids), vitamin deficiency, anxiety and stress. There is ALWAYS a reason adults cry so to believe that babies don’t have to have a reason to cry is just insane. They are not manipulative animals, they are HUMANS with FEELINGS.

  3. David Brown says

    I don’t agree. I wonder in 50 years what the future PHDed experts come up with? I expect even your ideas will change in that time, and after some more children of your won. Stating that someone else is “wrong” is something experts often do. Try the notion that you’re wrong and see where that leads… When you challenge yourself real knowledge evolves… Good luck.
    P.S. Sometimes the old way is the right way. Not sure if that’s the case here but I would not condem them.

    • says

      I think the difference is I am looking at the “old way” – just going much further back than a few decades in an otherwise modern society. But yes, if I think of the idea that babies DO cry for no reason I end up baffled – it just doesn’t logically follow from a biological or evolutionary standpoint. At all. The only way it makes sense is as a cultural construct.

      • Gemma says

        As a biology graduate fascinated with evolution and newly pregnant for the first time, I read this with much interest. It doesn’t make sense to me that a baby would cry for no reason as this works against all natural instincts to remain invisible to predation (for one). A baby crying regularly for absolutely no reason makes no evolutionary sense to me, on many different levels. In the same way as smiling apparently triggers the ‘love me and keep me’ hormone in parents (clever little sods), why would a baby put itself at risk of any adverse behaviour, from parents or externals, without due cause? Thousands of years surviving as the fittest should direct thinking on this one. I completely agree Tracy.

    • Ness says

      I agree with Tracy. What you refer to as ‘the old way’ is actually a fairly new way that people have come up with as seeing children as less important human beings as adults. Scientific research shows the true “old ways” are better for the emotional health of children and the society.

    • Kangi says

      The old way was always to respond to the newborn/infant/toddler/child/teen/grown offspring when they cry! The first instinct when your baby cries is to pick them up and soothe them. Fighting that instinct to listen to an *expert* is wrong! The right thing to do is nurture.

      This “cry it out” nonsense is new… within the past 15-18 years.

      The old way IS the right way, without a doubt!

      foot note *expert*, someone who has absolutely no real knowledge and absolutely no experience in whatever field they are writing a bunch of bullhooey on in order to make a quick buck without having to work for it. *experts* often consult with half-eaten bagels for their “expertise”. The biggest “market” for them to BS in is child-rearing, diet & exercise, and vaccines. Not to be confused with a genuine expert, A genuine expert is someone with experience, knowledge and true expertise on a subject. Example, mothers who have been through it as well as grandmothers and great grandmothers are experts at child-rearing. They actually gave birth to and raised children, have been through it all, seen it all, heard it all and can give genuine, real, true advice on how to treat the child. The most common thing you hear is “Pick the baby up and hold him! Talk and sing to him! Rub his back and rock while you do that! There you go!”

    • Brittany says

      The “old way” is actually responding to your child’s cries and holding them more often than not. Unlike the “old way” you’re referring to which is keeping children occupied with objects rather than interacting with the parent, keeping the baby on your schedule rather than on his/her schedule, and keeping the baby separated from the parents. No wonder Princeton University just released a study that says that 40% of infants in the US are fearful of their parents.

  4. says

    I largely agree with this, although I would put at the top of the list of reasons for why a baby is crying as, “It is hard to be a baby.” It is probably not teething if we’re talking about a 6 week old, and probably not food sensitivities (because those are comparatively rare and will most likely be evident through other symptoms). I see overstimulation as a HUGE reason why babies cry particularly heart-wrenching cries.

    • says

      I would actually say food sensitivities are more prevalent than we think – lots of people I know have experienced them but didn’t know the other symptoms to look for (e.g., assuming excessive gas was just normal, or that they just had a bad diaper rash). Especially when it comes to nighttime sleep :) But yes, I agree that overstimulation is probably a huge one :)

      • says

        What do you define as “excessive gas”? We pass gas an average of 13 to 21 times per day; many people think they are “too gassy,” but it’s within the range of normal. Actual excessive gas is a rare problem. I wrote a bit more about my opinions on infants and gas here –

        Are many of the parents complaining about night waking doing things like breastfeeding and bedsharing? One of the best ways to take care of *any* upset in a baby is breastfeeding and/or holding a baby close; I’m sure you know that. I don’t think food sensitivities are more prevalent than we think at all; I think we’re detached from what we “should” be doing with our babies.

        • says

          From my experience talking to families, it’s been when the gas is causing pain and babe is crying a lot in addition to the gas. I realize babies have gas, but often it isn’t and shouldn’t be horribly painful :)

          I also agree re breastfeeding and bedsharing, but it’s amongst those people that I get the sensitivities people too. Given a baby’s digestive track is known to have issues with too much dairy, a mom’s diet that passes it down will cause discomfort. Our modern food – especially processed foods – I believe are a far way from what our bodies expect and the same goes for babies while their gut develops.

          Note: I realize though that I am less likely to get emails from parents where everything is a-okay :) So there’s the bias there, but as this is written for people who may have some problems, it’s worth adding in there 😉

          • sugarmag418 says

            As someone that nursed and shared my bed with all three of my children I can attest that food allergies cause a lot of crying. My middle child cried all of the time, they said is was colic. My husband suggested that since he had problems with dairy perhaps my son did as well. Within days of eliminating dairy from my diet his crying drop by at least 80% AND he was much easier to sooth. I am not sure what you mean by detached from what we should be doing but I a was a long term breatfeeder, stay home mom and I never let my kids “cry it out” .

          • William, PhD microbial ecology says

            Tracy, you have interesting theories on child development and I mostly agree with your hypothesis in baby cries. That said, your response to this blogger contains many attempts to justify your hypothesis through anecdotal evidence (many people ive talked to etc.). You know better than that, having a PhD. I agree with Boob Geek. Research has reproducibly shown that food sensitivities are uncommon. Indeed, food sensitivities are evolutionarily unfavorable. I would hypothesize that more often than not, a breast fed or formula fed baby’s farts don’t bother them at all. Over stimulation, however, is a very interesting and testable hypothesis.

          • says

            Food sensitivities more generally, yes. Dairy has consistently been shown to have effects and we haven’t even come close to looking at the effects of preservatives in children, though initial work on the effects of these preservatives cause similar reactions to IBS which is very painful. The problem here, as I see it, is that we haven’t really teased apart the other variables that may influence how an individual child reacts to certain foods. And fyi, I don’t think it’s hugely common, but it seems more common than many people give credit for, so in this sense, like with all research, sometimes we need these anecdotes to lead us to the research to answer the questions :)

            Edit: Btw, if you want to read more about my take on food sensitivities, you can read more details here:

  5. Amy says

    While I can understand the validity of the theory prompting this article, some parents are notemtally capable of just holding and soothing a screaming baby. I for one CANNOT hold my child if he’s screaming. Neither can his father. It makes us insane. If his basic needs are met and he is still crying, we give him Tylenol and teething tablets and let him cry it out in his room by himself. I understand that something else might be wrong, but something might not either and you fail to address that. Baby’s sometimes just get tired and get cranky. There is nothing wrong with letting your kid “cry it out” ans I’ll be the first person to tell you that if I believed your article while heartedly and patented the way you feel is right, my child probably would have shaken baby syndrome. Some of your practical applications are just unrealistic for the majority of the people I know with kids. We work, cook, and clean all day while juggling multiple children. I’m lready sufficientlt stressed out throughout the day. I can”t handle a screaming child on top of everything else, I would lose my mind. I don’t have any time to cater to any of my children on that level. I would never be able to leave the house. Even if I just paid the special attention to the baby the rest of my kids would feel like they weren’t special. And for anyone who would answer my comment with “well if you can’t take care of all your childrens’ needs you shouldn’t have kids” 80% of parent shouldn’t have had kids, welcome to America. Unfortunate circumstances are the #1 cause of conception here. Most peope aren’t ready and won’t handle it well and every parent will make mistakes, but this article demeans parents who aren’t I’m a position to parent like this. I hate these articles because none of you self righteous hypocrites can just state an opinion about why you think this is a better parenting method and cite your sources. No, you have to put down other parents who wouldn’t agree or do the same to boost your own ego and make yourself feel better. This article is pathetic, petty, and without merit in today’s society.

    • says

      You sound like you’re dealing with a lot right now and I’m very sorry that this parenting business has been as stressful as it has for you and your husband. Our society truly isn’t family-friendly and it’s a shame. As for sources, if you are curious into the research on responsiveness to distress and the outcomes associated with it, you can read the following review piece by Dr. Joan Grusec which summarizes the research to date quite nicely (hopefully you have access to journals). In short, we know that responsiveness is key to later outcomes like emotion regulation, empathy, socialization, etc.

      Grusec, J.E. (2011) Socialization processes in the family: social and emotional development. Annual Reviews in Psychology, 62, 243-69.

      One thing I would like to counter for others reading this though is that you have to ignore your children because one is upset. I would hope that what is happening is that you model responsiveness to someone in distress (if you are able to do so without harming the child) to your other children and show them that when they are upset, they can come to you as well. I don’t believe any child who witnesses someone responding to another child in distress will feel less special and of course you can always explain why one child requires some extra attention at times.

      And of course, if a baby is crying frequently for what you believe to be no reason, I would recommend looking into possible underlying causes. That type of excessive crying is in fact not normal biologically-speaking.

    • Ness says

      Amy, I totally understand your feelings of needing to hold on to your sanity. The inner me has been screaming all the time lately. As Tracy pointed out, that can be due alot to the fact that our society tends not to be very family oriented. Parents lack the support of community, pouring into them what they need so that they can be responsive to their babies’ needs. It may help to remember that your child is a human being and not a second class citizen. Emotional needs are as valid as physical needs. How would you want someone(your partner or caretaker when you are older if you require one) to respond to you in times of distress? Is your child not entitled to the same compassion? Understanding that you’re responding to a valid need, may not cut down on the frustration, but can add a sense of purpose to what you are doing.

  6. says

    Tracy your article is spot on.i am a midwife and an NCT antenatal teacher.
    The subject of crying babies has been debated for a many years now. From my experience they are the so called gurus from a corners who claim to know the solutions for crying babies. Eg Sleep trainer who can train a baby to self sooth and sleep through the night.
    I feel sad that mothers have to get their babies in a routine in order to continue with their busy lifestyle. Not sure if today’s modern mum’s have time to get in tune with their baby and be there for them rather than let them cry to sleep.
    I totally agree with Tracy that babies cry for a reason which maybe just over stimulation.
    However, today’s parents believe they need expert opinions at every stage in life and have lost confidence to be Parents .

  7. says

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is – irritations. Ever felt the torment of a clothing tag irritating the skin!
    Most baby clothes have huge tags made from filament fibre! ouch ouch ouch

    Parents that attend to their crying baby, become more ‘intune’ with their child. These parents quickly recognise the pitch, the tone of each individual cry deciphering the need with confidence.
    They can recognise the hungry, pain, wet, cold, hot, clothing irritation, gas, lump in the bed, snotty nose & the ‘I have a nappy wedgie’ cry.
    Basically the need it met promptly, the child cries less, the parent is stressed for a shorter period of time.

    Parenting is one huge course in problem solving skills. Effective parenting requires logic with a side dish of patience & selflessness.

    Since babies aren’t born with a large vocabulary, they have to communicate with their only available means.
    Babies communicate when they are happy with smiles, babbles, coo’s & giggles, which all parents enjoy,. No expert has ever labelled a happy baby as manipulative & attention seeking, so it makes perfect logic that in its true form, a crying baby is a unhappy baby – and there’s always a reason why

    • says

      Excellent point!!! My daughter – now 3 1/2 – HATES tags and can now tell me and we’ve had to cut them out they irritate her so much. Luckily the ones in her infant clothes didn’t seem to bother her, but now it’s a major irritant!!

  8. Joebob says

    I agree that it doesn’t make any sense logically that a baby would cry for no reason, just as it is just as illogical to convey the idea that at all moments, as soon as a baby starts crying, everyone should start the emergency sirens. Sometimes babies cry, and yes there is a reason for it. So, what? How about this lesson to teach your baby? Yes, life is scary and painful, and sometimes you get really angry about it, but in the end, you need to grow up and deal with it. That’s a hard lesson to learn, but many before you have. Yes, if you start to lose your shit, and cry like the cat just scratched you, then yes I’ll check in to see how things are going, but if you are just whining, well then, I’m sorry son, but you’re gonna need to figure out how to do it on your own. I’ll be there when the earthquakes hit, but when your diaper is wet, well then you sleep in it. I’ll make that compromise if it can help you understand that pissing yourself is just something that happens when you’re 3 weeks old. When you’re 30 years old, then you’ve learned to piss, but you still cry when you’re sad, and yes, sometimes no one is there to help you. That’s a rough lesson to learn, but it’s one of the first, so take it in stride and understand that pain, fear, and anger are all inevitable it is really the sadness that is the hardest to overcome, so be strong little one.

    • sculptoralison says

      So, because it’s hard to be an adult sometimes, we need to teach a human who is less than a year old to suck it up? A baby doesn’t understand why you’re ignoring him and therefore cannot apply the experience as a life lesson. My older children both show very good age – appropriate independence and I believe that is because they know they can come to me when they need me. I comforted them when they cried, every time, or my husband did if I could not. I understand not being able to in certain situations, particularly if the parent is under emotional distress, but coldly ignoring a crying child should never be acceptable.

      • Joebob says

        How is it exactly that you know what babies are thinking? Sometimes when my baby wakes up in the middle of the night, he cries for a few minutes and then he goes back to sleep. Guess what? It’s not going to create lifelong damage. They did a study of children who were neglected at a Romanian orphanage, and these were babies who were left to cry all day every day for months and months of their life. They found that yes, such extreme neglect was certainly damaging, but only if these babies were given to loving families before the age of two. Many of these babies regained normal development patterns and when tracked turned out just fine. As far as I’m concerned, this whole attachment parenting thing is great because it teachers people to create attachments with their kids, but people take it to ridiculous lengths. Letting you kid cry for a little bit is not gonna hurt them. It’s been done for ages and ages.

    • Laura says

      Children know from a very early age not to soil themselves. Some of their cries are because they need to relieve themselves and don’t want to do it in a nappy. If we don’t respond to this, they accept wetting themselves in a nappy as the norm. It certainly isn’t the norm for half the worlds children born outside Western Europe and North America. There isn’t a good reason to leave a baby to cry. Just because you did or it was done to you and “everything was fine” isn’t a good reason.

      • Joebob says

        So, you are suggesting what? I recognize beforehand each of the 10 times a day my kid is going to pee and then what? Quickly remove all his clothes and hold him over the tub. This is what I mean when people take these things to ridiculous lengths.

        • Laura says

          We have a significant number of people in the west who suffer from relationship breakdowns, depression, and addiction. Where does it start? In infancy when a child’s primal need for loving contact is denied and cries are ignored? It’s a chance I’m not prepared to take for my child. Parenting is tough, but when the chips are down, you find beauty in yourself and your child that you didn’t know you had.

          I take my child to the potty when he wakes up from sleep. It’s what an adult would do. Why would a baby now want the same opportunity? Potential discomfort is avoided. If you are going to change a nappy, why not preempt the mess and dispose of waste hygenically?

          This link might put things into perspective for you.

  9. says

    Thank you! I especially love “… if they knew they were still having a positive impact on their child by simply holding them while they experience distress? … they don’t need to be perfect to be helpful… The most important thing you can do as a parent is simply be there.” Makes so much sense to me and fits to my experience as a parent and caretaker. I had learned this notion before from A. Solter “Aware Parenting” whose approach of crying is very much in tune with this: give your child all the understanding and acceptance and physical closeness (if they want) while they cry in your arms, even if there seems to be no reason for the crying: they’ll greatly benefit from it, and often stop crying after some time, especially if this was NOT your aim and if the message you were conveying to your child was “ok, cry as much as you need, I’m here with you, you are very much ok for crying, I guess you need it even if I don’t know why…”

  10. Vanessa says

    Another great article! I actually first read this when I was pregnant. The message that stayed with me was to never let my baby cry on his own,, and that there would be times he might cry and I would not know why, but I still need to hold him and comfort him. This of course makes perfect sense to me. But it is one thing to hear about seemingly inconsolable crying and another thing entirely to experience it with my new born baby. I felt like it would break my heart each time he cried and I couldn’t figure out why or what to do! I never let him cry on his own, but I felt horrible every time he cried and I couldn’t help him. I am so glad I reread this article and others on this site. I had come to a point in which I felt helpless at helping my baby. And it also didn’t help that so many people, including my midwives and my mom, kept on telling me his crying and spitting up were normal. And that this too shall pass. Yes, maybe, but a voice inside me (my maternal instinct awakening? ) kept on telling me that no, it is not normal, and yes, there must be SOMETHING that I can do about it. And there it was, in this article, but I had forgotten that part! Food sensitivity! First I cut out dairy from my diet. There was some improvement, but not as much as I wanted to see. So then I eliminated gluten. And it may sound silly to some, but it really has been like a miracle cure!No more spitting up! No more inconsolable crying! Much less fussines at the breast, and better sleeping. And it has only been a few days! So thank you for your help!

  11. Krista says

    Hmmm, yet funnily enough how have the older generations survived especially with minimal “tools and ideologies”? I’m sorry but some of the modern day approach to parenting I personally think is scaring new mothers and giving them doubt on how they are raising children and that in itself is not healthy either. Not every baby/child are alike and when a mother is given the chance to tune in to their child’s different needs through different approaches and techniques then let it be. I will go with my gut before i will listen to “qualified professionals” what is right and wrong for my child unless deemed necessary. We as parents need to come together and support one another not tell one another why they are doing is right or wrong.

    • says

      How far back are you going? Historically, responsiveness to crying was a given. Modern day approaches actually reflect the cry-it-out, strict schedules, etc. and not the type of sensitive parenting that was historically more common. I’m not sure how you see this discussion of children’s crying as being about telling parents they are “wrong”, but rather about providing information about what is biologically normal when it comes to crying behaviour.

  12. sarah says

    I agree with the general message, of course babies cry for all the reasons you have mentioned, none of it comes as a surprise. Isn’t it obvious that being there to hold a distraught baby helps? Why would babies be any different than adults? is this article intended for a specific demographic?

    I would like to share that when I had my second baby she really relied on nursing to sleep. For months, I was up every half an hour to an hour with her. I did resort to a sleep training program,when both her and I were sleeping terribly. There was very little crying involved and a lot of verbal soothing and patting, slowly moving further from her crib as she drifted to sleep. Within days, I was able to put her in bed and she was peacefully drifting off to sleep on her own. I would breastfeed her in the night as I should and as needed and then she would drift back to sleep.

    I should mention that bedtime came after bonding bath time, massage, reading and love and attention. Parents who chose to sleep train don’t neglect their babies needs and let them cry through pain and fear. She no longer felt the need to nurse to sleep every time she woke up and was very peaceful in the way she fell asleep each night. I can tell you, I was a better mom to both children once I was getting more sleep as well.

    I don’t push the idea of sleep training on anyone. I don’t provide sleep training and I don’t talk about it unless I’m asked. My girls are 4 and 7 now, both sleep beautifully and I have always been attentive and in tune with their needs. I don’t think sleep training is for every parent, every baby or situation. I have respect for choices parents make and I respect every situation is unique. I think it’s perfectly ok to live through disrupted nights for months and months, I know many who have and their kids now sleep just fine too.

    Why the judgemental article against an approach that can, in some situations, improve sleep for babies and parents? Do you have no experience with a gentle sleep training program and instead have a vision of screaming, neglected babies? I’m sure there were other ways to manage my sleep challenge other than sleep training but it was the right fit for her and I. It also was effective- so it clearly was not pain or fear causing her to cry the way she did.

    I found the article judgemental and would love to see more balance.


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