News flash: It is impossible to spoil your baby. That’s right, despite what others may say, you can never shower your little one—especially those younger than 6 months old—with too much love or attention. In fact, meeting a newborn’s needs to be calmed, coddled and fed in a predictable manner help her feel secure while forging a loving, trusting relationship between parent and child.
As your baby matures and reaches the 6-month mark, however, you may want to refrain from catering to her every whimper. Consider fostering independence by delaying your response to certain cries—such as when your baby is frustrated with a toy or overstimulated. By learning to interpret and appease these tears, you’ll feel more confident in how you respond—and enjoy a quieter household.
The Crying Game
New parents often equate their baby’s cries with distress and discomfort. In truth, however, babies cry for numerous reasons—when they’re hungry, anxious, overtired, have a wet diaper. Just remember that crying isn’t a bad thing, and it will never harm your baby.
“When Tyler was 4-months-old, he would have crying jags that lasted for what seemed like an eternity,” remembers Mary McDonald of her son Tyler, now 4. “My husband and I were flustered and ran around the house in a panic all the time. We would run to the crib, pick up Tyler and try to quite him immediately. What we learned, though, is that sometimes babies just need to cry and get it out of their system.”
Hard as it may be at first, allowing your baby—especially if she’s older than 6 months—to cry on his own for a couple of minutes has its benefits. For starters, it teaches the baby to amuse himself. (Around 5 months, little ones can spend hours playing with and examining their fingers and toes.) Second, she may learn a new skill. For instance, if she becomes frustrated with a toy and begins to cry, step back and see if she can solve the “crisis” on her own. You’ll be surprised by how quickly her problem-solving skills develop.
If your baby’s crying persists, swoop in and dry her tears with gentle rocking or caressing. This will teach your baby a lifetime lesson—that her parents will always be there for her.
Can’t-Miss Tip: Tears Be Gone
Having problems quieting your baby’s cries? Swaddle her in a blanket and rock her gently while singing a soothing lullaby. Also consider running the vacuum in the next room or placing your baby where she can hear the clothes dryer. Steady rhythmic motion and sound may help her fall asleep.
Is your little one having a bawl? Check out these parent-proven tear-stoppers:
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