Babies cry because they are hungry, thirsty, lonely, in pain, tired, stressed, overwhelmed, or at discomfort. Your baby might seem to ask for attention all the time, but being ignorant towards their cries is not at all good for their emotional health.
A study in the United States, involving 14,000 children found that 40% of kids lack an emotional bonding with their parents. Babies under the age of 3, who don’t get to bond with their parents have higher risks of developing aggression, hyperactivity, and open resistance at later stages in life. The attachment parents have with their kids has a far greater impact on their behavior and personality.
What Babies Feel When You Respond To Their Cries
Babies are sensitive—after birth, they are solely dependent on their parents. When they cry they want to grab your attention for their needs. Bonding between a parent and child comes instinctively. Picking up and holding your baby, responding to them, and soothing them by cradling and swaying makes them feel warm and secure. Here are 5 ways to ensure your baby doesn’t miss out on the benefits of a cuddle and a kiss when they don’t feel too happy and cry.
1. The Skin-To-Skin Contact
The sensation of touch has been underrated, however, hospitals know the importance of a mother-baby bonding soon after birth. If such a practice is avoided after birth, it can develop health risks for mother and the baby. Find out the harmful effects of interrupting skin-to-skin contact. Having a skin-to-skin contact after birth helps in mother-child bonding.
For improving the health of premature babies, hospitals promote a technique called kangaroo care, where either of the parents or family member holds the baby ensuring a direct skin contact for as long and as often as possible. Skin contact can also be increased during breastfeeding. Baby massage is another way to establish a healthy bond with your little one and make them feel secure and comfortable.
2. Sleep Supporting Your Baby
Waking up at night to feed your baby is common and further develops a connection between the mother and the child. Responding to your baby’s cries for feed or attention is instinctive and important. During the first year, the babies must sleep in the same room as the mother. If the mother practices safe bed sharing—breastfeeding becomes easier. Making the baby sleep in the cot but closer to you can help comfort them at night with a gentle touch. Find out more about co-sleeping with your baby.
Some parents also let the baby cry until they become tired and sleep on their own—a method to sleep-training your baby. Somewhere between prolonged crying, the baby falls to sleep unattended. It may be easy for the mother and the baby would get accustomed to going to sleep without needing the mother’s presence—the baby would still be under stress. This method of controlled crying is a wrong practice, which health experts and organizations like Australian Association of Infant Mental Health warn against.
3. Feeding Time
Breastfeeding is the time that allows the mother to connect with the baby. Your baby’s still-developing vision allows them to have a clear look at you during breastfeeding. While the skin-to-skin touch can be well-maintained at this time, you could as well stroke your baby’s head or talk to him by making an eye contact. Those who don’t choose to breastfeed, don’t worry about missing it out—you can use same ways to bond with the baby while holding and bottle-feeding them.
4. Keep Them Close
Today, to keep the busy parents from holding the baby more often, we have come up with prams, cots, baby seats—which distances them from the mother, preventing eye-contact, skin-contact and usual interaction of the parent and infant. A study has shown that reduced interaction can affect the development of the baby—especially when these carriers make them face away from the mother.1
The study involved 2722 parents and their babies. Out of these 20 babies were pushed in a buggy for a mile—one facing away and one towards the parent. Only one baby out of 20 laughed in an away-facing buggy while 50% babies laughed in the buggy facing towards the parents. Their heartbeats were also lower than the babies sitting in away-facing buggies with more tendency to fall asleep, suggesting lower stress levels. Facing the baby increases interaction between the parent and child, making them feel secure and stress-free.
5. Don’t Ignore Those Cries
Pick up your baby when they cry—you are not spoiling them. Their sense of touch develops earlier than other senses. Cuddling them more often increases the skin-to-skin contact, making their responses strong and developing a better bonding with the parent. Leaving them to cry can impact the bonding between you two. An unattended infant who is crying experiences stress and anxiety—since they are too small and dependent upon you, they look forward to being held and soothed.
Your baby could be at discomfort, crying is the only way for them to convey it. They don’t cry with an intent to disturb you or just grab your attention—they could be feeling insecure or alone. A baby is completely helpless on its own—their cries are high-pitched or shrills so that they disturb you and let you know that they aren’t feeling alright.
|↑1||Baby buggies may undermine child development.University of Dundee|