Responding to Baby’s Cries

*Update: Here’s a fabulous article that scientifically explains what really happens when you sleep train. Everyone that sleep trains should read this first.*

For some reason our culture has decided that babies are manipulative from birth and need to be taught independence, from birth. This is a cultural belief, not based in child development or any scientific research.

Mothers are told by friends, family, even medical professionals that they must let their babies cry…”it’s good for their lungs”, “it won’t hurt them”, “they’ll never learn to sleep if you don’t”…etc etc etc…

We are often told that our mother’s instincts are wrong, and that we must ignore our innermost feelings and let our babies “cry it out”, that they are “just manipulating you.”

Attachment parenting disagrees vehemently with all of this. Attachment parents believe in the value of a baby’s cries. They trust their feelings that baby needs us and needs us to attend to them when they cry. We believe that a baby’s wants and needs are the same thing. We believe that a mother knows, deep in her heart that leaving her baby to cry is wrong and damaging, to baby and to mother & family members. We do not believe that you must harden yourself to your baby, as the “baby trainers” say we need to…we believe that this hardening only creates a barrier to the deep bonding that all children need to be able to grow up loving and trusting of their world.

We don’t believe that babies can be “spoiled” by responding to them…but that we are instead doing just what nature designed us to do…nurture.

In our very plastic society, where everything is based on convenience, attachment parents feel that our babies need us to respond to them 24/7, not just during waking hours and not just when it is convenient to us. We feel strongly that “nighttime parenting” is as crucial as daytime parenting, and lack of sleep comes with the responsibility of parenthood. (Although severe lack of sleep is not…and there are many ways to deal with this, one that works for many people is to sleep with your baby.)

And we have experts and research to support our beliefs…

I recently learned something very interesting from the author of the book “Playful Parenting”, Dr. Larry Cohen…this was that children who are left to cry themselves to sleep as babies, and hence do not receive what they needed back then, can grow to be 10, 11, 12yr olds with sleeping problems. He sees it in his practice all the time and stresses to parents to NOT let babies “cry-it-out.”

So why does our culture encourage this cruel practice? Because we are a culture of convenience. And night-time parenting is not convenient.

And even though this is a practice that could very well be damaging your child…our culture encourages us to push our babies towards independence from the day they are born! Nevermind that we are mammals, and mammals are biologically DEPENDENT for the first years!

Think about it…a baby cannot feed herself, dress herself, burp herself, sit up by herself, go to the bathroom by herself, clean herself, get around by herself, or communicate as an adult does…yet we expect her to comfort herself and sleep by herself?? This makes absolutely NO SENSE.


They are not designed to move towards INdependence until they are toddlers…and then it is a slow process towards independence that last YEARS before they truly are INdependent…during which time, DEpendence is very much a part of their lives! It’s SUPPOSED to be!

So please do not expect your baby to comfort themselves. That’s YOUR job, as her parent!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *