Your Brilliant Baby in Week 5: Crying to Gain Your Trust
What your infant learns this week
Baby’s Brain in Week 5
Newborns don’t talk, and they’re not very good at gesturing and body language, but they’re really good at crying. Those wails are Baby’s way of telling you he needs you now: At some primal level, your infant knows that he can’t survive without your care, so nature equipped him with this sure-fire means of having you provide for his needs.
The cycle happens like this:
- Baby cries.
- You’re so disconcerted that you reflexively work to determine exactly what it is that Baby requires,
- and then you solve the puzzle and bring him to contentment. Success!
- Now, Baby is reaffirmed that you’re to be trusted to meet his needs, which cement your relationship with him.
The upside of crying is that it fast-tracks you into caregiving mode, which in turn secures his survival. The downside is that sometimes it’s difficult to figure out just which form of caregiving your baby is seeking because, as you likely know by now, your baby may go through frustrating periods of fussiness that occur for no apparent reason.
Knowing what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to crying can make this trust-through-crying cycle that much easier on you, as a parent.
What the Research Shows
Researchers studying typically developing infants have discovered these facts about crying:
How much is normal? Newborns cry between 2 and 11 percent of every 24 hours; this percentage frequently increases during the first few weeks of life. At six weeks, babies’ crying peaks at two to three hours a day, but drops off to less than one hour a day by three months. Infants cry most in the evening, and this pattern of crying occurs in all cultures.
Why is Baby crying? Research shows that babies’ cries take on different pitches and patterns depending on their immediate need. Soon, you may be able to decipher those needs. For example, whether he’s…
- Hungry, a need that provokes mild distress, whimpering, and moaning.
- In pain, a sensation that causes an abrupt onset of sudden crying.
- Angry, an emotion that provokes a louder and more intense cry.
Why does it all matter? As you interpret and respond to your baby’s cries, she’ll in turn become efficient in her crying. She’ll cry for food and you’ll feed her. Soon she’ll learn to cry in that exact way when she’s hungry again. Prompt attention to your crying baby in the first three months actually leads to less crying later in infancy! So it’s definitely worth it to spend some time sleuthing your child’s shrieks.
If your baby deviates drastically from these norms, be sure to talk to your baby’s doctor.
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