I so often see parents tense up and feel uncomfortable when their babies start to cry. Then I witness parents start, (sometimes frantically), bouncing, jiggling, rocking, looking for the pacifier or otherwise trying to stop their babies’ crying.
I would like to hold out a much healthier solution and perspective to crying. Let your babies cry! Really! Crying is good and healthy! Crying is an amazing and wonderful emotional expression that should be embraced without judgment and supported without stifling. I’m not talking about the “crying-it-out” approach which entails leaving your baby in another room by herself, not picking her up, and not responding to her cries or ignoring your baby completely when she cries. That approach can lead to your baby feeling insecure and powerless which will lead to a disconnected parent-child relationship.
I’m talking about the “crying in-arms” approach with aware responding and aware attention.
Here is how it works…
1. Communication: Your baby needs something like holding, food, or a diaper change.
2. Healing: Your baby has been hurt either physically or emotionally.
When your baby starts to cry, it is of the utmost importance to respond promptly which entails picking your baby up immediately if you are not already wearing your baby in a sling or baby carrier. Lack of responsiveness, especially if repeated, can be damaging to your babies’ emotional health. If your baby is left to cry alone, often your baby may begin to feel unsafe in her environment and this creates a lack of trust in you as her parent. This may also lead to anxiety as your baby gets older. So, it really is so important to compassionately and quickly respond to your baby’s cry.
Then figure out why she is crying. If her immediate needs have been fulfilled, (i.e. hunger, thirst, diaper change, and no physical pain or medical issues), then you can assume she is crying to heal some sort of stress; yes, babies absolutely feel stress. She is crying as an emotional release so it is important to let her stay with this beautiful processing without stopping it by some conventional means such as bouncing, jiggling, rocking, shushing or using a pacifier. Take a deep cleansing breath to help relax your tensions and then gently hold her in your arms, away from your body and let her cry. Always lovingly and compassionately looking in her eyes and staying connected visually. Your baby will close her eyes periodically and turn her head away from you, but will always check back in to see if you are paying attention and you need to be looking at her with calm, loving, non-judgmental support. This process not only allows her to heal any stresses in her body and spirit but also deepens your bonding with her by deepening her trust in you. You can also periodically say “I hear you.”
• You help your baby heal any trauma that could have lifelong affects.
• You support your baby releasing any daily stresses the can accumulate in their being.
• Your baby will be more relaxed and less fussy and whinny.
• Your baby will be less demanding and have a longer attention span.
• Your baby will fall asleep more peacefully without coaxing or “sleep training”.
• Your baby will sleep better and more deeply through the night
• You will get better sleep.
• This approach will enhance your emotional connection with your baby and deepen your bonding.
Babies love to cry to release stress and tensions because it feels so good to them. Just like it does with adults. We feel better after a good cry and when we are in the process of crying we would not appreciate someone else (especially if they were much larger than us) telling us we had to stop or putting something in our mouths to stop us. Babies are the same.
I invite you to try this approach. You will be amazed witnessing the transformation in your baby as she moves from a place of being “fussy” and “demanding” to being more alert, centered. and happier after an “in-arms” cry.
I’m going to leave you with this interesting quote by Charles Darwin from 1872:
“The secretion of tears serves as a relief to suffering. And by as much as the weeping is more violent or hysterical, by so much will the relief be greater…”
Welcome Guest Blogger, Wendy Mann, a single mama of an amazing twelve year old daughter. Wendy is a Certified Aware Parenting Instructor, Emotional Release Guide and Parent-Infant Bonding Specialist. She is deeply impassioned about motherhood and supporting transformation in babies and young children, parent-child relationships, and ultimately the world. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org