Often we have heard the old wives tale that discourages parents from picking up their crying babies. “They” say that it will spoil the children into thinking they can just cry and get their parents’ attention.
Today, let’s debunk this myth! It is absolutely OK to pick up your babies, especially the very young ones. When your babies cry, they need comforting and need to feel secure in their environment. Research shows children gain neurological and behavioral benefits when they are consoled when they cry.
Science proves that the sooner a crying child is picked up, the less that child will cry over time. Psychology Today reports that those children trust their environment and explore more as they grow up to become toddlers.
A study done in the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO using brain images, showed how a caregiver’s love physically and positively affects a child’s hippocampus, which is the area of the brain where learning, memory and stress responses are processed.
Some more benefits of tending to your crying baby:
- Loving, touching and responding to your baby’s signals help your baby’s nervous system mature without being overly stressed. Your love makes your baby feel secure so she can be unhampered in developing her brain in other ways.
- You help give your baby a healthy immune system.
- When babies receive lots of positive experiences, such as being smiled at and coddled, their brains produce more neuronal connections; and this produces a smarter brain.
- When your baby cries, if you are far, let them know verbally that you are on your way.
- As you pick your baby up, talk to him/her and reassure him/her that all is well and that you are here now.
- You can rock your baby, massage, sing to, walk around, dance, and/or cuddle with him/her.
- Some babies like soft music along with their caregiver’s cuddling.
Tend to your crying baby and soon you will notice the difference. If you feel nothing is soothing your little one, please see your pediatrician to make sure there is no other underlying issue. In the meantime, love on those babies and see them grow to make this world a better place in the long run!
Martine Jolicoeur is a Team Lead at First Step to Success, a program of The Arc of Palm Beach County.