Friday, March 22, 2013
A Baby Cries
Parents get on the job training when a new baby is welcomed into the world. By watching and listening, they learn very quickly that babies can communicate their needs and wants. According to William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N., authors of The Discipline Book as well as numerous other parenting books, babies are born with attachment-promoting behaviors. These behaviors are babies’ earliest language. In fact, parents will find this form of communication irresistible, as it is designed this way in order to promote a response from them.
The strongest attachment-promoting behavior is a baby’s cry. It is a parent’s job to respond to a baby’s cry. Do not worry about whether or not baby will be spoiled or is trying to be manipulative. A newborn is only wired to communicate needs or wants, which at this age are one and the same. A baby may cry to communicate physical needs, such as when hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, too hot or too cold. A baby may also cry when anxious or just needs some affection and cuddling. Just pick up the baby. Do not worry if the response is not “correct,” baby will let you know. For example, if baby wants to be fed after being picked up, she will gnaw on her fists or root for the breast. Babies will communicate their needs, and as time goes on, parents will respond with less calculation and more intuition.
At some point in time, many parents will receive the advice to “let baby cry it out—leave baby to cry alone.” The Sears’ completely disagree with this mantra. They say that a baby’s cry ensures that the needs for food, holding, rest and social interaction are met. Furthermore, a baby’s cry develops a mother’s parenting skills. Responding to a baby’s cry is how baby learns to trust. The Sears’ do not believe that it is the parents’ responsibility to stop their baby from crying, as only baby can do that. It is the parents’ job to help their baby stop crying. There will be times when baby may not stop crying no matter what kind of comfort parents try, but the difference is that baby knows mom and dad are there and is secure in that. The Sears’ encourage parents to continue to hold, rock, bounce, whatever it takes to help comfort baby.
At the beginning of the “typical” cry of a baby, the sound strikes an emphatic chord in the mother, and she responds with a nurturing and comforting response. According to the Sears’, this is the attachment promoting phase of a baby’s cry. The Sears’ have found that babies whose early cries receive a nurturing response, learn to cry “better.” Their cries are mellow and not disturbing. When baby’s cries are not answered, they become more disturbing as baby grows angry. These cries can make a mother angry and set up an avoidance response. As these babies learn to cry harder, a distance develops between mother and baby. These babies are not secure and have no trust as their cries have gone unanswered.
According to the Sears’, the ultimate in crying sensitivity is when parents become so fine tuned to their baby’s body language that they read and respond to pre-cry signals and intervene before crying is necessary. These babies soon learn that they need not cry hard or sometimes at all to have their needs met. They are secure and have trust that their needs will be met.
Trust your instincts. Respond to your baby. Independence comes from dependence.