Should you rush to your baby when she cries?

Whether or not you should go to your baby every time she cries is a common parenting dilemma. We look at both sides.

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Your baby’s cry pierces your heart – no wonder you instinctively rush to her as fast as you can, to calm and soothe her. Yet experts differ in their opinions on how you should deal with your baby’s crying.

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Deciding what approach to take

There’s no one ‘right’ way to manage your baby’s crying.

You need to strike a balance between over-reacting to a short bout of tears she could recover from on her own, and not responding to a more severe episode of crying that stems from a significant difficulty. Also, you won’t always have the time to attend to her straightaway – spare a thought for the mum of howling twins or triplets! It comes down to knowing your baby.

Even if you do occasionally think you get it wrong – for instance, you ignore her cries but later realise something has genuinely upset her, or you hurry to her when she simply cries for attention – she won’t suffer any lasting psychological damage.

No, you shouldn’t always rush to your crying baby

On the one hand, there are those who claim you shouldn’t go to your baby the moment she starts to cry. They argue that if you respond immediately, she’ll never learn to soothe herself. And there’s always the possibility that she cries just for attention, especially from the age of 5 or 6 months old. This is around the time when she becomes more aware of her surroundings and has a greater understanding of cause-and-effect.

Babies are often smarter than we give them credit for. If you go to your baby the second she starts to cry, she could begin to think, “This is terrific, I’ve got mum well-trained. All I need to do is burst into tears and she comes running.”

You can often tell when she cries just for attention by her reaction the moment she sets eyes on you. If her cries stop instantly and she beams a big smile at you, then she’s probably having you on and doing it for attention – she’s smart, but not that smart!

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Yes, you should always go to you crying baby

On the other hand, there are those experts who claim you should always go to your baby when she cries because she may become even more agitated if you don’t. She could think, “I’m all alone and no-one will help me,” which would then make her cry even harder.

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