It's painful to see and hear a baby cry. It's also part of the baby's first opportunity to communicate that something is wrong, or that they need something. Many parents learn to read the cry and know whether it's a matter of hunger, tiredness or frustration.
Every child has their own personality
Studies show that babies cry or are restless for up to two hours a day on average until they are three months old, and for an hour a day between four and six months of age. But at times this can feel like an eternity.
All babies are born with their own personality and temperament. This also affects how they cry. Some babies are barely audible. Others with more energy scream at the top of their lungs, which is obviously more stressful for their parents. But there are also positive aspects of having a baby who cries a lot and tells you what he or she wants. Obstinacy is a personality trait that can come in handy later in life.
What does it mean?
Being powerless to comfort your little baby can make you feel like a bad parent. A child who can't be comforted evokes lots of emotions, such as frustration, anxiety and desperation – even sometimes irritation. But of course, you are meant to feel it in your soul, look for the cause and look after your baby's needs. That's the point of evolution.
Crying is an expression of a need. It can mean many things, like, “I'm hungry”, “I don't want to sit here because it's uncomfortable”, “I can't sleep”, “I don't want to be in this person's lap”, and so on. Crying and grumbling can wax and wane. It's normal during periods of growth or when your child is developing quickly. It can be hard sometimes, and you won't always understand why they are so sad. Maybe they don't either.
Be understanding, offer comfort and let baby cry things out on your lap sometimes
You'll get better and better at knowing and understanding your baby's needs. Sometimes it's a basic need that needs to be met. At other times it may be harder to know what's wrong. It's easy in these situations to try everything, and we mean everything, to comfort your baby.
But crying isn't dangerous and it doesn't harm our little ones. It also doesn't hurt them to feel emotions – like being sad about something, or disappointed or angry. If you're close at hand, it can feel good for your baby to get it out of their system by having a good cry, while you cuddle them or hold them on your lap. The important thing is that your baby feels safe and is comforted by someone they know well.
It's impossible to spoil young children
In our parents' day, people thought it was fine to leave babies to cry, because it was good for their lungs. We no longer believe this. Children need parents who react to their crying and provide support.
Pick up your baby if you want to, regardless of what people around you say. You can't spoil a baby by giving them too much attention or by holding them in your lap. Follow your gut instinct and choose the advice you want to follow.
Read more about comforting your baby.
Or watch our short or watch our short film, which provides tips on what to do when baby is crying.