When it comes to parenting, everyone you know or don’t know will feel obligated to give you parental advice and interfere. One of the most common advices you’ll hear when you try and comfort your crying baby is to let them cry it out or to stop carrying them so they don’t get used to it.
While a mother’s maternal instincts usually rush over and she comforts her little ones by holding them, many people suggest that a baby can get used to being carried and becomes spoiled. However, research has proven that a crying baby needs to be comforted.
Why do babies cry?
A research team led by Notre Dame psychologist, Darcia Narvaez, found that parents who treat their offspring with affection, sensitivity, and playfulness since birth become happier and healthier adults.
Sometimes, we have parents that say, you are going to spoil the baby if you pick them up when they are feeling distressed. No, you can’t spoil a baby,” explains Professor Narvaez.
Babies can cry for multiple reasons, but because crying is their only method of communication, your baby could be trying to tell you it needs something. Babies cry when they’re hungry, tired, in pain, have allergies or just need a loving touch. As a mother, it is your job to soothe them and gradually teach them how to comfort themselves. When you respond to your baby’s cry and soothe them or attend to their needs, your baby identifies you as a reliable and safe source of comfort that they can trust. That feeling helps build a strong bond and a loving connection to help them feel emotionally secure and develops self-confidence as they get older.
“Part of it is following your instincts because we as parents want to hold our children,” she says. “We want to keep that child close, follow that instinct. We want to keep the child quiet and happy because the cry is so distressing.”
Along with two colleagues, Lijuan Wang and Ying Cheng, Professor Narvaez conducted a research by surveying over 600 adults about their childhood. Using factors as affectionate touch by parents, free play, and positive family play, the results showed that adults who portrayed better mental well-being and less anxiety had a positive childhood experience.
Tips to help soothe your crying baby:
- You can help teach your babies to calm down or comfort themselves by providing them with a favorite object.
- You can rock your babies when they’re wailing and then start urging them to play on their own by distracting them with a toy.
- Stick to a routine that your baby will get familiar with over the next few months when comforting.
- Reassure your babies in new environments and around new faces by carrying or rocking and making them feel safe.
- Singing to your baby is also a great way to soothe him and get him familiar with the tone of your voice.
Further reading: Studies Suggest We Should Not Force Our Kids to Share.