A guide to responding to your baby’s cries

Responding to your baby’s cries is very important, especially in these first 6 months of life.

You can literally not spoil a newborn baby, and in these formative months the “don’t respond” approach should be avoided.

The absolute opposite is what I am talking about. Touch them, hold them and respond to them as much as you can to reduce stress and cortisol levels. If you do that in the first year of life, you’ve got a baby who is less likely to develop stress reactions later. Attachment research backs this up. Babies whose cries are consistently responded to in early infancy are shown to be less needy as they grow and develop and have a stronger sense of self and secure attachment.

Crying is your baby’s language

Hold in mind that crying is your baby’s language. It is how they communicate their needs to you, when you respond to their cries they are being understood by you. You are communicating with each other.

And yes, sometimes they will cry and it will feel like nothing you do can appease them. This is commonly called a “fussy cry” and it is just as important that you hold, sway and touch them gently. This lets them know you are there and can stay with them through this distress. This kind of fussy crying seems to help babies get rid of excess energy so they can return to a more contented state at the end of it.

It takes time to learn your baby’s cries. This is called attunement. The best way to learn is to listen to them and respond when they cry. This way you get to learn their cues and they internalise that when they cry they can anticipate with a degree of certainty that you will respond to them.

Find out more about this stage also referred to as “The Fourth Trimester“.