Facing Your Baby’s Cry
- It is natural for a parent to experience a rise in anxiety at the sound of their child’s cry.
- It is natural for a mother to experience more anxiety than dad at the sound of her child’s cry.
- It is natural to respond to your child.
The Crying Face Of Your Baby
- It is natural for babies and children to cry.
- Crying is a healthy response to struggle, frustration, loss and change.
- What do we want to teach our children about healthy and normal human sensations, feelings and emotions?
- When are these lessons OK for our child to learn?
- How will we remain responsive as we support them in their learning?
The cry is normal and so is our parental response. It is biologically necessary and from birth as we repeatedly responded to their cries, we are creating a relationship of trust and security.
I do not like to call what we will do together “sleep training”. Your child will learn the developmental skill of falling as applied to sleep. However, they do train us. Therefore, we are untraining. For your child to become a skilled autonomous sleeper, at some point, we must allow the child to have the natural response to learning something new, something unfamiliar and something that inspires the tears of struggle.
My job is to:
- Un-train parents and offer them an alternative to their normal reactions.
- Alternatives that support parental responsiveness and quell the natural re-activeness to the cry.
- Alternatives that address anxiety and help parents reduce their own anxiety.
- Alternatives that can facilitate the child in their own emotional regulation.
Our children learn self-regulation through co-regulation with us, their caregivers and every grownup in their lives. They are learning how to do it both on their own AND with our help. But they are mostly learning it by watching US self soothe and self regulate.
We meet our child’s authentic needs for:
- Love and affection
Parent Reinforced Needs
These are generally what we are doing to prevent crying.
- Nursing, rocking, bouncing the baby all the way to sleep after 5-6 months.
- Nursing all the way to sleep and feeding more than twice in the night after 5-6 months.
- Driving, holding and facilitating naps after 6-8 months.
After we have met all of the authentic needs of the child; after we are sure the child is not in pain, not hungry, and sleep needs to happen, what then?
First Things First
If we are doing everything in our power to keep our baby from crying, and what we are doing has us up all night, THAT is disrupting our own sleep. This in turn will affect our own well being and sometimes our very sanity.
What messages might that send to our children?
- It is not ok to feel upset.
- I don’t think you can handle your own tears, disappointment and struggles.
- I am so worried about you NOT being able to handle this, that I am shortchanging my own health and wellbeing.
The first – and very best thing we can do as a parent – is self soothe! We are their emotional anchors.