Childrearing

Another Study Proves Babies Aren’t ‘Manipulating You’ With Their Tears

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shutterstock_93084466__1366558351_142.196.167.223More research shows that babies naturally respond with calmness when they are in their mother’s arms. This makes me not feel like such a failure for not being able to successfully implement the “cry it out” method.

I was game to try the whole “cry it out” thing when my child was an infant. My pediatrician starting pushing it when my child was just three months old. She insisted it was the best way to get him sleep-trained and that it would be best for our family. I tried it. Twice. I simply couldn’t stand listening to my infant grasping for breath and screaming uncontrollably – especially since I knew it would stop immediately when I picked him up.

When I began discussing this with friends who had successfully implemented the cry-it-out method in their homes, there was one response that always baffled me. The insistence that my infant was already manipulating me was a little hard to grasp. Really? My three month old was “manipulative.” Hmm.

From Health Day News:

“From humans to mice, mammalian infants become calm and relaxed when they are carried by their mother,” Kumi Kuroda of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan, said in a journal news release. “This infant response reduces the maternal burden of carrying and is beneficial for both the mother and the infant.”

“A scientific understanding of this infant response will save parents from misreading the restart of crying as the intention of the infant to control the parents, as some parenting theories — such as the ‘cry it out’ type of strategy — suggest,” Kuroda said. “Rather, this phenomenon should be interpreted as a natural consequence of the infant sensorimotor systems.”

Becoming calm in mother’s arms is a natural, biological response – not a calculated manipulation by an infant. I can readily admit that my two-and-a-half-year-old has some manipulative behavior. But when he was three months old? Not so much.

I know couples that have their children sleep-trained by the time they are four months old. This is obviously great for many reasons. My child just started sleeping through the night when he was about a year-and-a-half. Clearly, there are benefits to the whole, “cry it out” strategy. But I think this is an important study in that it should lessen a parent’s frustrated response to a child’s crying. If you think your child is manipulating you, you may be more apt to become angry. If you understand it is just a biological response, you may have a little more patience with the behavior. The study’s authors believe understanding this basic, biological response may even lessen the instances of child abuse:

The findings are very relevant to parenting and may play a role in the development of strategies to prevent child abuse, the researchers said. Understanding crying from a baby’s perspective might ease their frustration, they said. When parents are less frustrated, child abuse may be less likely to occur.

(photo: postolit/ Shutterstock.com)