The old wives tale that “crying is good for the baby’s lungs” was put to the test in the 1970’s and researchers had shown that children who were left alone to cry had heart rates that were worrisome and lower levels of oxygen in their blood.
For babies who are soothed right away, physiological elements are returned to normal and there are no psychological distress seen in the baby as well. Therefore, crying a little may be good, but we prefer to nurture our babies rather than let them cry for long periods of time.
The Language of Crying
The means of communication between a mother and her child is through crying. A baby does not have the verbal skills to tell mum what he or she needs. So, the baby will cry to communicate to mum if he or she needs food, is uncomfortable, needs to be warm, etc. When your child senses a need, this triggers an automatic response of air filling into the lungs and then forcefully expelling out through their vocal cords. The most important thing mum must do is to link which type of cry to the type of need baby is requiring. If mum can pick up on cues the baby gives before crying then mum can react accordingly and actually teach her child that crying all together is not necessary to get what they want. As babies grow, they do learn other ways to communicate with mum. Babies then use their eyes, smile, and make other noises in replace of the cry. Breathe easy and listen to your baby.
Responding and Ignoring Children’s Cries
At first, healthy newborns will cry between 1 and 3 hours a day for those items that baby needs. Once a child’s signal or cry for a certain need is determined, parents can either respond to the cry or ignore the cry. But, please note that research has shown that ignoring a child’s cry may result negatively for your child. Compliant children are more likely to give up on their need when ignored and stop crying, because they realise crying is not worthwhile. Thus, baby may feel unworthy and lose motivation to communicate with mum and dad. For babies who are more persistent, the crying only gets louder and lasts longer for mum and dad to listen to. If the option to respond is chosen, then mum helps to build the communication between her and her child as well as teach her child that he or she does not need to be frantic next time he or she needs something.
What Might Baby Say If He Could
- I need food
- I need to be comfortable
- I need to be warm…not too hot and not too cold
- I need to be held
- I need to rest
- I need something to make me feel better…I am in pain or sick
Over time, baby’s communication skills will develop, in the meantime listen with your heart.