Posted by: Admin | April 19, 2011

My thoughts on letting a baby cry it out!

I remember one day letting my first-born baby cry. I can still see myself sitting outside while he was screaming his lungs out in his crib. He was 3 months old and the book said that I should let him cry. It said I would spoil him if I picked him up each time he cried. I remember my brother-in-law sitting outside with me, just looking at me with this surprised look on his face. I held his stare for awhile and said: “What? The book says he will be spoiled if I do not let him cry.” And then he said, calmly, “The book has to be wrong…”. I got up and went to pick my baby up. I brought him outside with me, placed myself in the shade with him, and cried with him while I rocked him to sleep.
I remember this experience every time I pass by a crying baby in a stroller at the mall, just as I did today. The parents were shopping and paying no attention to the baby. How often do you have to hear a baby cry to become immune enough to his cries that you do not answer them?
The cry of a baby is a cry for help, a need expressed in the most primal way. It is the only way he can express his needs. He has no knowledge of words and knows no code language. The cry of a baby reaches everyone. See for yourself the next time you hear a baby cry. You will look around to see where that baby is. You will wonder if he is alright. That cry commands attention. That cry is his survival.

Babies are genetically enhanced to solicit care. Ever wonder why you melt when looking at a baby’s face? Ever notice those wide-set eyes, the chubby cheeks, the red lips, the wonderful smell? It is all there to elicit a reaction in the human adult. A “wanting to take care of” type of reaction. We sometimes get the same feeling when seeing a puppy, and that is why we adopt them (but we do not find them so cute anymore when they grow up, start eating our slippers, and lose their “cute” features). There is even a name for this phenomenon: the “cute factor”.
Why did nature go to all this trouble to get the adult of a species to take care of its young? In humans, the baby is totally dependent on its parents. If the baby does not succeed in getting an adult to take care of him, he dies. I am not saying the baby crying in a stroller while his parents are shopping will die. I am saying there must be a reason why he is crying. A baby uses energy when he cries, which is not in his interest. Research shows that their heart rate increases and their blood oxygen levels decrease. A crying baby also secretes cortisol, which is not a good thing. A permanently high level of cortisol has many bad effects on the body as well as the brain. During the first three years of his life, a child develops his emotional brain and a high cortisol level is not desirable. I can hear you say: “But babies do cry. It is normal for a baby to cry.” That is true, but it is also very important to comfort him as soon as possible so that his cortisol level decreases.
Answering a baby’s needs opens up parent-child communication. The baby will come to trust his parents. He will know that they are there for him and he will be more secure and less clingy and demanding. Research has shown that answering babies’ needs teaches them to “cry better,” and that babies who received less nurturing learned to “cry harder” instead. The research has also shown that parents who gave a more restrained and less nurturing response gradually became less sensitive to their babies’ cries, and that this decreased sensitivity carried over into their whole parent-child relationship.
The conclusion: Leaving a baby to cry-it-out is not good for anyone!




  1. Very interesting post! Our daugther’s cry were always answered quickly. A tacit understanding between us has developped. A bond I feel is at the root of a strong sense of confidence in who she is. Is she perfect ? No! She is developping! : -))))
    Today, at 6 years old, she knows we ARE there for her, no matter what.

    Richard A.

  2. I think there is a difference in cries though. At 3 months old, the baby is crying because he needs something.. wether a diaper change, needs breastfeeding or just wants to be cuddled. As they grow a little bit older, they also cry because they don’t want to go to bed. I had an issue with my husband. He would be the type to ” let him cry himself to sleep” where I would always go pick him up and rock him to sleep. This caused arguments between him and I because our vision would be different. My mother always taught me never to let a baby cry in his crib, his mother taught him otherwise. In the end, we agreed on rocking him for 15 minutes and then putting him down and he would cry for 5-10 minutes and then fall asleep. He did this for about 3 weeks. Now he doesn’t cry anymore and knows it is time for bed. But like I was saying before, there is a difference in cries. I know when my son is crying because he doesn’t want to sleep or because he is hurting. It is not so much that I can “hear” the difference but I definetly “feel” the difference. My husband does not. I think a mother will always know when her child is in need, it is a gut feeling that motherhood gives us, as long as we pay attention enough to feel it.
    Very nice article mom, I guess you are talking about my older brother Chady and my uncle Camil in this story?
    That was very educative and I learned quite a few things from this article, thank you 🙂

    • Yes I was talking about your older brother :). I learned well and I never did that with you, but I understand what you are going through. I did not always fight for what I beleived in. I did like you, I tried to compromise a lot to keep peace im my relationships. Now that I am older, if I really beleive in something and if it is important enough to make a difference in someone’s life, I fight for it. This is why I fight for breastfeeding and child-friendly parenting skills. You should be proud: you and your brothers have thought me everything about being a mom, and now I can see myself in you but you are so much better!



  3. I don’t get strollers, much less allowing a child to cry out upon deaf ears. My baby cries and I react. That’s what is SUPPOSED to happen. A baby cries out of NEED, not manipulation. I always want to pick up the crying babies and let them know someone hears them…and wishes they could bash their parents upside the head and knock some sense into them.

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