No matter how cheerful and bubbly your baby is, crying is a normal part of his life. After all, that is the only way in which your little one can communicate his needs to you. But how much is too much? When is it okay to ignore your baby’s cries – and when is it not? Read on to find out.
Some babies cry a lot and are extremely loud, while some only cry occasionally, and their cries are soft, even hard to hear. Regardless of how they cry, it’s a rule of nature – all babies cry. Some parents choose a method called crying it out, wherein they only comfort baby with a pat on his back at regular intervals. Left on his own, the baby stops crying after a while, after he realizes that nobody is going to come to soothe him. While this is a personal choice, we certainly do not recommend it. We strongly believe you shouldn’t ignore your baby’s cries. His cries are the only way in which your baby can express himself, and tending to his cries helps build his trust in you.
Of course, decoding baby’s cries can be tough and easier said than done. Check out our age by age guide to know why baby is crying – and what you should do when he cries.
Newborn to Three Months
Babies at this age cry differently for different needs such as hunger, sleep, loneliness, etc. When you answer his needs instantly, you are not only communicating with your baby, you are also helping him trust you. If baby’s needs are not met when he cries, he feels neglected and stressed out. When baby’s cries are often ignored, he realizes that his needs won’t be met when he cries, and he learns to stop crying. Studies have shown that babies whose cries are ignored grow up to have anxiety, depression and trust issues. Therefore, make sure you respond promptly to baby’s cries at this age.
Three to Six Months
At three to four months, she will cry only when she needs to be fed, her diaper needs to be changed, or when she is tired and sleepy. By this time, you will be able to figure out why she is crying. If you meet baby’s needs before she starts crying, you will avoid baby’s crying spells. If your baby cries despite this, it could be because she is unwell.
A five to six month old baby will cry sparingly, because this is when babies learn to self-soothe. Rest assured, letting your baby fuss for a few minutes is not the same as crying it out. However, make sure your baby doesn’t cry for more than 6 minutes at a time. Your baby still needs to know you are nearby, and your presence will strengthen the bond between you and her.
Six to Nine Months
By six to nine months, your baby will sleep peacefully for 6-8 hours at a stretch. If he still has trouble falling or staying asleep, you can now try the “crying it out” method. Let your baby cry for a short duration before you comfort him. Increase this duration of time each night, and within three to four nights, you will notice that your baby is able to fall asleep without you comforting him.
Stranger anxiety will manifest itself at this time, which will cause baby to cry in the presence of unfamiliar people. Now is also the time when baby will experience separation anxiety, due to which he will tend to cry on waking up in your absence. On the bright side, baby is likely to calm down as soon as he sees you.
Nine to Twelve Months
Your baby is now old enough to realize that when she cries at night, you will try to calm her by taking her in your arms. When a baby at this age cries at night, it is generally due to boredom or separation anxiety. The solution to this is to be loving yet firm. When your baby cries, go to her but do not pick her up. Instead, tell her in a firm voice that it’s time for her to sleep. Repeat this process in short intervals of 5-10 minutes. As baby learns that she is not going to get her way, her cries will reduce over time.
Remember, your baby is crying because she wants to tell you something. Your job is to find out why she is crying, and what you can do about it. In situations when she simply refuses to stop crying, consider using a pacifier. No matter how fussy or inconsolable your baby is, a pacifier will definitely help her calm down.