Crying baby: How parents should respond
It's hard to listen when all you want to do is find a way to make your baby stop crying. Find out the best approach to your baby crying here.
Imagine for a moment that you have been abducted by spaceship to a distant planet, and you are surrounded by giant strangers whose language you do not speak. Two of those strangers take you under their care.
You are entirely dependent on them for the satisfaction of all your needs - hunger, thirst, comfort, and - especially - reassurance that you are safe in this strange place.
Then imagine that something is very wrong - you are in pain, or terribly thirsty, or in need of emotional support. But your two attendants ignore your cries of distress, and you are unable to get them to help you or to understand your needs.
Now you have another problem, more serious than the first: you feel completely helpless and alone in an alien world.
In all innocence, a baby assumes that we, as his parents, are correct - that whatever we do is what we ought to be doing. If we do nothing, the baby can only conclude that he is unloved because he is unlovable.
It is not within his capabilities to conclude that we are only busy, distracted, worried, misled by "experts", or simply inexperienced as parents. No matter how deeply we love our baby, it is mostly the outward manifestations of that love that the baby can understand.
No one likes to have his communication ignored. and if it is, this brings on feelings of helplessness and anger that inevitably damage the relationship. Such a response seems to be one that is universally experienced by adults, and there is no reason to conclude that it is any different for babies and children.
Few people would ignore an adult while he repeatedly said, "Can you help me? I'm not feeling right." Ignoring such a request would be considered most unkind.
But a baby cannot make such a statement; he can only cry and cry until someone responds - or until he gives up in despair.
Immediate response to a baby's cry went unquestioned for thousands of years until recent times. In our culture, we assume that crying is normal and unavoidable for babies. Yet in natural societies where babies are carried close to the care-giver much of the day and night for the first several months, such crying is rare.
In contrast to what many in our society would expect, babies cared for in this way show self-sufficiency sooner than do babies not receiving such care. In fact, research on early childhood experiences consistently shows that children who have enjoyed the most loving care in infancy become the most secure and loving adults, while those babies who have been forced into submissive behavior build up feelings of resentment and anger that may well be expressed later in harmful ways.
In spite of this research, most arguments for ignoring crying are based on fears of "spoiling" the baby. A typical baby-care brochure advises the parent to "let the baby handle it for a while”.
Though infancy can be a challenging time for the parents, a baby is simply too young and inexperienced to "handle" the cause of the crying, whatever it may be. He cannot feed himself, change himself, or comfort himself in the way that nature intended.
Clearly, it is the parents' responsibility to meet their baby's needs for nurturing, security, and love, not the baby's responsibility to meet his parents' need for peace and solitude.
How parents react to crying babies can have an important impact on their development. Infants with parents who respond quickly, consistently, and warmly when they cry have healthy emotional development later on.
These studies have suggested that responsive and sensitive parents can protect children from developing stress coping mechanisms.
One study looked at babies born with predisposed stress-related symptoms and their parents, and concluded that even though there were risk factors in the babies for stress, they were able to be relieved with affectionate caresses during early infancy.
As important as it is to respond warmly and quickly to a crying baby, it is also important to prevent the baby from being exposed to angry or fearful voices, negative body language, and being left alone in distress.
Avoiding these stressful situations can also facilitate a baby’s learning and the development of positive social relationships.
Written by Mutiara