I’ve been a parent for 9 years and my feelings around crying have evolved over time but to this day, I still HATE to hear my kid’s cry. This was more so when they were under the age of two and they were unable to communicate with words, but nonetheless, listening to my kid’s cry has been really hard for me.

When my baby would begin to cry, my natural instinct was to immediately stop the crying in whatever way I could. Most of the time it was by nursing or the use of a pacifier.  If it worked, I was rewarded by having the crying stop. If it didn’t work, I was punished by continuing to listen to the crying and second guessing my parenting.

However, over the years, I have discovered that (feeding them immediately or whatever you currently do to stop your baby from crying) may not have fixed the actual reason they were upset to begin with. They could be cold, wet, or tired.

Experts such as Madga Gerber have recognized that while there may be an actual reason that our babies cry, our job isn’t necessarily to stop the crying but to tune in, provide help and support.

If you are like me and find yourself becoming anxious when you hear your child cry, I encourage you to read further on how to help manage your own anxiety around crying.

Pause and listen.

In my example above, I talked about my own response to my baby’s crying which was to offer the breast without much exploration beyond that. I would say about 50% of the time, it did the trick. The crying would stop, I would relax, and we would move on with our day. But, as I have discovered over the years, immediately offering the breast without further digging into what was causing my baby to cry was doing a disservice for my baby and myself. They will begin to expect food (or whatever immediate interventions you choose) in response to other needs even when they are not hungry. So, I encourage you to pause, take a breath and see if there are other needs that may haven’t been met.

Crying is a normal process.

I am sure you’ve heard it before but a good cry benefits everyone and the tears that are shed help restore the body’s chemical balance following the stress. Crying is a way for everyone to say, I have feelings about something and now I am telling you about them. This is the way that babies communicate.  Crying is a normal and healthy process for everyone.

Crying can be triggering.

In our culture we tend to block and suppress the expression of deep emotions, i.e., crying. For some of us, we were punished as children when we cried or maybe we were constantly given a distraction (food, TV show, a toy, etc.…). In turn, crying produces anxiety but our own discomforts around crying do not have to be reflected in our children. Instead, try and listen to what your child is saying.

Calm breeds calm.

Boy, do I need this reminder often! The more upset my child gets, the more anxious I begin to feel. I often overlook what the real issue could be and go straight to stopping the crying. But what I am not doing is what all of us need when we cry -to be heard, understood, and helped if possible.

I am going to let you in on a little secret though…the most common reason your baby cries besides being hungry has to do with being overtired. So, keep an eye on those wake windows and put them down for their nap before they get overly tired.