Monday, June 5th, 2006
Don’t Raise a Cry Baby, Share Love and Attention Early
Scientists have discovered what parents already know…
Letting babies cry will only end in more tears [New Scientist Magazine]
New research from the University of London’s Institute of Education indicates newborns which are held less often, and left to cry for longer periods before being comforted, end up being bigger cry babies when they are three months old. Translation: training an infant to not cry for attention doesn’t work, and it only increases the distress.
A newborn’s sole method of communicating a problem is through crying. If you could experience for one minute the limited and confusing sensory world of an infant, you would never let your baby leave the comfort of your arms.
Now, toddlers are a different story. When your kid can talk and explain herself, you can distinguish real issues from manipulation or trivial matters you’ll let your kid cry out, or cry a little bit.
On Sunday, I was prepping almost-two-year-old Little Miss for a lunchtime visit at the hospital. Mom is a weekend nurse and we often meet for a family meal away from home. This time, Miss wanted some cheese she saw me set aside for her lunch bag. She wanted the cheese then and there, so she threw a fit on the kitchen floor. I let her cry, about 2 minutes total, before she composed herself. I tried talking her through it, explaining that we were going to visit Mom and would eat cheese with Mom, but Miss was consumed by her crying.
I didn’t pick her up and hug her because I’m certain through my tone and words that she understood I didn’t want her to have the cheese. The cheese didn’t mysteriously frustrate her. She knew she wanted something which conflicted with my wishes. In the end, there were more decibels to her tirade than tears.
I realize not all parents agree with my approach. Maybe I won’t go into detail about how our pediatric dental assistant explained how she used to pin her screaming kids to the floor, sitting on top of them, to brush their teeth. So, I’m kind of OK with allowing my daughter cry over delayed cheese gratification.
Research abstract in the June 2006 Pediatrics Journal.
Research study title: Infant Crying and Sleeping in London, Copenhagen and When Parents Adopt a "Proximal" Form of Care.