Western World — The Western world’s familiar crying baby is far different from what is seen in cultures where parental responsiveness, natural feeding, and unrestrained affection are the unquestioned norm.
What has been measured to be “normal” crying in today’s modern society goes far beyond what is truly “natural.”
Colic — When baby routinely has long bouts of crying that do not respond well to regular carrying, rocking, and feeding on cue, one needs to look for a source of chronic discomfort. Frequent, long bouts of inconsolable crying are
Bedtime — It is Natural for a baby to cry in response to being laid down, away from the warmth and comfort of their natural protectors. Babies demonstrate that they need to be close to human bodies, and frequently fed. While regularly ignoring baby’s pleas against abandonment will eventually lead some babies to give up their efforts, this may not be the healthiest choice. SIDS is drastically lower in co-sleeping nations. There are often hormonal and emotional consequences as well.
Spoiling — Sadly, over the last century, parents have been encouraged to ignore baby’s clear signals and pleas for attentionand affection, and to ignore their own very strong urges to respond. Parents have been strongly admonished that they will spoil the baby, should they ever “give in” to baby’s “controlling demands.” Yet, cultures around the world that practice more natural, responsive forms of parenting have healthier infants who cry much less, toddlers who do not exhibit “terrible twos,” generally respectful teenagers, and independent adults who participate in family matters.
Shushing — Still there are real reasons to cry that are not always as simple as a wet diaper or loneliness. Babies also cry to release stress, sadness, and bad thoughts. Psychologists tell us that we should acknowledge baby’s feelings, and allow her to release her tensions through crying, when needed. We wish to provide empathy and acknowledgement to let baby know we are there for her. Comments such as “You’re OK” and “Don’t cry” only tell baby that we do not believe her; that her feelings are not valid. On the other hand, the sound of a “shhh shhh” is commonly used by mothers around the world. It can be a soothing measure, rather than a command. It may immitate sounds in the womb.
When a bout of crying is piercing, or in any way very different than what is usual for the baby, it is advisable to seek rapid medical consultation.
Responding — When a baby’s cries are comforted by being picked-up, rocked in
arms, carried, or fed, then the solution is clear — human attention is exactly what baby needs — that’s how baby is designed, and for viable reasons. Infants are purposely fashioned to be irresistibly adorable, in order to obtain the social interaction and physical contact they require. When the caretaker responds regularly to baby’s cries, eventually the two become attuned, with much simpler cues generally replacing the need for crying.
Quotes from BABY MATTERS: “Withdrawn, or crying alone, whichever path the ingnored infant takes, she may appear more independent, but ultimately the sad fact is — she is merely very much on her own.”
“While an adult may be able to be romantically neglected, deceived, or totally uninvolved without major long-term consequences, an infant’s permanent brain development is shaped by the level of attentiveness she receives from her “first loves.”