new babies and crying

I just spent three weeks with my youngest daughter and her new baby. With her help, I have some new thoughts on the topic of crying.

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I am a firm believer in the need for a child to be allowed to fully unload the hurts he/she [from here on in, “they”] have endured. So, if a child falls, and cries, allow the child to finish crying with you close by, without interruption of either ridicule “you’re not a baby” or distraction “here’s a cookie.” Ditto even if we’re unaware of the source of the crying.

But I realized I have a caveat: the neonate. I don’t think they are enough reassured by our presence to know as they cry hard that they are ok. For neonates, I think –still a hypothesis–I’d be interested in your perspectives–we need to do whatever we can figure out to comfort them.

My daughter compared the kind of mysterious neonate crying with a recent incident to illustrate the point. She was giving the baby some belly time and he dropped his head precipitously and banged his nose. He cried for a short time while she stayed close. When he stopped, she gently touched his nose, saying, “You hurt your nose there didn’t you!” and he cried again. This was repeated a few times until he was just finished.

I do wish we could remember those times so we could report on what was going on with us as infants, or alternatively, that we’d invest in this kind of research instead of our inflated military, but until then we have to rely on our best thinking.