Tuesday, June 28, 2005

When to Let Baby Cry

What do you do if you have tried everything and baby is still crying? If you lay baby down for a nap and he or she begins to cry, should you pick the baby up? Experts say, not necessarily so. The truth is, there are times when your baby NEEDS to cry. If you know your baby is dry, well-fed and is not in pain, then there are times when the very best thing you can do for your baby is to let him or her vent frustration.

Crying is a normal and natural part of a baby's world. Crying helps baby to develop strong, healthy lungs. It also helps baby to vent frustration that he or she cannot yet put into words. Babies cry for a number of reasons. Your baby may be crying because he or she is overly tired. Your baby may cry because he or she feels frustrated. Your baby may cry because he or she is just not in a great mood and needs to block out the world for a little while.

When it comes to babies crying, particularly at nap time or bed time, experts offer the following suggestions:

1. First, make sure there is no outside reason baby is crying. In other words, make sure baby is well-fed, clean, dry and comfortable. Make sure also that your baby is not in physical pain.

2. If you are sure no outside conditions are responsible for baby's fussy mood, spend a few minutes rocking, cuddling and comforting baby so he or she knows you are there for him or for her.

3. Carry baby into the nursery and gently lay him or her down in the crib. Make sure baby is comfortable and that he or she is not too cold or too warm.

4. Walk away and monitor baby's activity from another room with the use of a baby monitor.

5. If baby begins to cry, let him or her cry for ten to fifteen minutes. This is okay. Baby knows you love him or her and will not feel abandoned. Crying is sometimes cathartic and relaxing for babies, just as it is for adults, and a good cry before falling asleep may be just what baby needs. Normally, baby will fall asleep within ten or fifteen minutes.

6. After ten or fifteen minutes, if baby is still crying, go back into the nursery, pick baby up and again rock, cuddle, snuggle and comfort your baby for a few minutes. Then, lay baby back down in the crib, again make sure he or she is comfortable and walk away.

At first, it may take several rounds of ten to fifteen minute crying intervals followed by a few minutes of comforting activity before your baby learns that, when he or she is put into his or her crib, it is time for sleep. However, be assured that baby will quickly catch on and, for the most part, will fall asleep with a minimal amount of tears and fuss.

Remember, too, that tears are a natural part of baby's life and are a normal part of baby's development and self-expression. You may notice a pattern with your baby. For example, many babies cry for a short period of time at around the same time each day, in the late afternoon. This is the normal result of having had a baby's version of a long, hard day. Love and comfort your baby as best you can, but learn to allow some tears to flow. You will not be doing yourself, or your baby, any favors if you never allow baby to cry.

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