Yes, your baby is an amazing little miracle! We are born as self-healers: compassionate, communicative, confident, and empowered. This is largely accomplished by …crying.
It’s widely known that babies cry when they need something or are uncomfortable. The usual list contains hunger, to be held, diaper change, pain, and too hot/cold.
But there’s more: crying is a need in itself. Babies also cry to heal.
Crying is both physiologically and emotionally healing. When you’re upset, do you feel better after you “have a good cry”? Tears can release stress hormones that run through the body. When babies cry, they release emotions in-the-moment, rather than “stuffing” them for later (or never), like many of us grown-ups learned to do. How many of us are in need of therapy to unwind our childhood experiences?!
When basic needs have been met and Baby is still crying, he’s communicating with you. It’s often labeled as colic. But what if we switch out ‘colic’ for ‘communication’? What if you understand it as your amazing little bundle attempting to release stress and express beautiful, pure, unsquelched emotion? How beautiful and empowering …and also very bonding!
How to meet this need to cry? By holding and listening. Not by shushing, bouncing, pacifying, or even nursing–but by being present.
What is there for such a tiny, loved being to cry so much about? Plenty! Our world can be a crazy place, even for some of us sensitive adults. Babies cry to understand and heal:
- birth trauma
- prenatal stresses
- overstimulation (sometimes we big people don’t realize that something was overstimulating for a tiny new nervous system)
- frustration (which, to some degree, is normal and healthy in natural development)
- family stresses at home
- separation from loved ones, especially Mama
- startling experiences (including loud sounds, visual surprises, and being held and moved in ways that induce a startle response)
- sometimes we don’t know why, and that is okay
Your loving arms, listening ears, and open acceptance will establish healthy ongoing communication–because Baby knows you will listen and that he is loved no matter what he feels. Rather than distracting, ignoring, or “waiting until he has words,” begin the journey together now. This process will keeps babies–people–whole. And present. It maintains their natural awareness, compassion, and confidence. Their sleep improves and they are peaceful truth-seekers.
And hey, babies help us heal too. You may need a good cry yourself!
For more information on crying in arms, as well as a look at both the “Cry-it-out” approach and Attachment Parenting, see Aletha Solter’s article, “Crying for Comfort: Distressed Babies Need to be Held.”
For in-depth support and background, see Aletha Solter’s books such as The Aware Baby and Tears and Tantrums.
© Eliza Parker 2012 and 2014, All Rights Reserved, links welcome
Much of my work comes from Infant Developmental Movement Education®, part of the Body-Mind Centering® Approach to Somatic Education, and Dr. Aletha Solter’s Aware Parenting. I am a certified Infant Developmental Movement Educator®, Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, and Spiritual Counselor.