The newborn cries: how to calm it

The infant cries , does not sleep at night, always wants to be in his mother’s arms. What to do? Two factions: always respond to his requests or let him cry to get used to calming himself . Well this second possibility would be absolutely not recommended, that’s why.

Over the past few decades, some books and pedagogical theories have wanted to convince mothers that making their baby cry is something useful and not harmful. Parents can thus “educate” him, for example, to sleep and not wake up during the night. Among the best known and most used there is certainly the Estivill method.

Eduard Estivill, Spanish neuropsychiatrist, back in 1999 published a book that immediately became the “bible” of many tired and tried mothers from sleepless nights. In fact, he promised to teach a resolutive method to “educate” the child to go to bed alone, waiting (even if he cried desperately) for certain intervals of time, after which he could go and look after him and console him. Time that was gradually increased until the child learned to console himself and sleep.

Despite the same Estivill many years later he retracted his theory at least for newborns claiming that : “The rules explained in ‘Take a nap’ were valid for children from the age of three who suffered from the so-called infantile insomnia for incorrect habits” , still today many mothers apply this method on their babies.

But why do babies cry? What do babies cry with? And what can happen if they let themselves cry for so long?


The reasons why a newborn baby cries can be varied: hunger, thirst, cold, heat, too much light, various pains, dirty diaper, mother’s need , etc. And then there are the colic ! In the evening, there is usually an increase in the frequency of crying as the little ones, stimulated during the day, rework the experience and “throw it out” in the only way they currently know, just crying. After a while, the mother generally learns to understand what her child’s crying is generating, but even if it were not so, what could be the advantage of letting the babies cry to exhaustion if not to see their hearts break in a thousand. pieces (other than the eardrums?).

In the first days and months of life, the little ones need nourishment and nourishment does not mean only food but also the warmth and pampering of mom and dad . It should not be forgotten that until recently the newborn was in a warm and welcoming belly made of darkness, muffled noises and constant maternal presence, in short, a safe and protected environment, from which obviously it is difficult at first to detach.

Crying is nothing more than the only means of communication that a newborn has to express their needs and emotions and must undoubtedly be listened to and respected, it is important to make children understand that mom and dad are there for them, always! It is a subliminal and unconscious message that passes, but not too much.


But what happens to children who are left to cry for a long time? Question that is difficult to answer. What is certain is that the child’s stress level increases as the production of cortisol and other stress hormones increases . This is certainly not good for the young nervous system, for the development and in general for the whole organism of the young.

A study a few years ago, conducted by the psychologist Penelope Leach , showed that he was convinced of the danger of making babies cry because in the long run it would damage the brain , negatively affecting learning ability.

“A child left alone will eventually stop crying not because he has learned to sleep happily alone, but because he is exhausted and no longer hopes to get help.”

And this is precisely the subliminal message I was talking about before, the child left to cry does not actually learn to relax and fall asleep alone in a healthy and natural way but rather the message that it is useless to ask for help since there is no one ready to give it . A dangerous message that can also affect adult emotional life.

On the contrary, by always responding to their requests for help, it is possible to better meet their needs, reducing stress and making sure to build a strong parent-child bond which will then translate into positive ties with the other people they will meet in their lives.

Among other things, the methods that allow children to cry by progressively increasing the time before intervening do not make much sense as the children have a perception of the passing time that is completely different from that of adults . So they do not know if they have cried minutes or hours and could continue very long, on the contrary children whose needs are soon satisfied (and it is not a matter of spoiling !) In the long run cry much less, acquire greater self-confidence and become independent of parents more easily.

Among other things, it seems that, as the psychologist Katharina Saalfrank maintains, even infants are afraid of death , so why, since you can, can not allow him to remove the worries in the arms of mom? A good idea, especially if the child is particularly “in high contact”, could be to equip himself with a baby carrier band , in this way the baby will calm down more easily and the mother will have her hands free to do what she wants.


First of all it is necessary to understand the reason why the baby is crying and obviously act accordingly , if he is hungry by offering him the breast or the bottle, if he is tired by cradling him to sleep or singing a lullaby, if he is dirty by changing the diaper, etc. . Sometimes the matter could get a little complicated, for example in the case of the well-known colichette. Read our tips on this .

Sometimes crying is only due to the need to contact the mother, in this case it is often enough to make one’s presence felt , speak or pick up the baby. Obviously if the crying is continuous and the causes are not well understood, it is always better to contact the pediatrician to make sure that the baby does not have any other pain or suffering (such as reflux problems).

Beyond the conflicting theories, however, the advice we feel we can give you is to follow your instincts of mothers who never make mistakes and who, more often than not, in the face of a problem, will suggest that you follow the only method really infallible and universal: love!

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