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BLOG: Don't believe the myth of not consoling your crying baby

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Mother playing with infant

We've often heard the old wives' tale that discourages parents from picking up their crying babies. It claims 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 at 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.

More benefits:

  • 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 to be unhampered in developing the brain in other ways.
  • You help give your baby a healthy immune system.
  • When you give babies positive experiences, such smiling at them or coddling them, their brains produce more neuronal connections, which nurture intelligence.

Practical tips:

  • If you are far away when your baby cries, let them know verbally that you are on your way.
  • As you pick up your baby, reassure him or her that all is well and that you are here now.
  • You can rock, massage, sing to, walk around, dance and/or cuddle with your baby.
  • 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, see your pediatrician to make sure there is no other underlying issue.

In the meantime, love on those babies and watch them grow to make this world a better place in the long run!


Martine Jolicoeur is a former team leader at First Step to Success, a program at The Arc of Palm Beach County.

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