When babies cry, it is not always a sign that they are hurt or in pain. Think about it. Babies cry as a way to communicate. They can be telling you about an itch, hunger, thirst, or they are cold, hot, tight. They might be calling out, “Mommy! Daddy! I need a cuddle!”
The great thing about babies is that their cry is very gentle. It is an instinctive action and a very healthy one. As parents, we need to teach our babies to develop and prefect this instinct. It is best to respond to it as a form of communication rather than reacting to it as if it is bad (even a type of bullying, perhaps).
Try reacting to your baby’s cry as if they are calling out to you. Always answer it with words. “I’m coming” is a good way to teach babies that you have heard them and that you welcome this communication.
There are many ways to respond to a baby’s cry. Remember, our goal is to teach our babies that they are saying something. Research shows that over time, mothers can tell the difference between a hungry cry, a wet cry and a scared cry. Think of it as something you both learn. Your baby learns to cry differently with different needs and you learn to distinguish between them. It is an adventure that you both share. With the feedback you give each other, you can refine both the cry and the response.
Some examples of typical “bad” responses towards crying:
- “Will you stop crying?”
- “What’s the problem?”
- “What’s wrong?”
- “Why are you complaining?”
- “I just changed your diaper a minute ago!”
Here are some good responses to a cry that encourage babies to communicate:
- “Here I am”
- “Did you call me?”
- “I am coming”
- “What are you telling me?”
- “Would you like me to check if your diaper is wet?”
- “Tell Mommy what happened?”
- “You’re right. It is not fun at all”
- “Yes, I know. You’re hungry”
- “Let’s see if you’re wet”
- “You just want a cuddle, don’t you, my little bundle of joy?”
Remember, babies communicate through crying. If you treat it like that, your baby will learn to develop language and to express themselves earlier and better and your bond will be stronger.
The best thing is that when they grow up, they won’t think crying is a sign of weakens. It won’t be something to be ashamed of or to avoid at all cost.
Enjoy your baby!
This post is part of the series Raising Babies: