Crying is Good for a Baby’s Lungs

This gem of parenting advice from the turn of the century is unfortunately still in circulation.  It is usually a quick follow-up to “if you jump up every time he/she cries you’ll spoil them!”  Both of these are completely false.  Here are some reasons why that tug in your heart that is telling you to go pick your baby up is correct.

  1. Increased blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate.
    • “Documented immediate and long-term sequelae of crying include increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, elevated cerebral blood pressure, initiation of the stress response, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, interrupted mother-infant interaction, brain injury, and cardiac dysfunction. Caregivers are encouraged to answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively.”  Ludington-Hoe SM, Case Western U, Neonatal Network 2002 Mar; 21(2): 29-36
  2. Increased risk of ADHD
    •  Infants who experienced persistent crying episodes were 10 times more likely to have ADHD as a child, along with poor school performance and antisocial behavior.  Wolke, D, et al, Persistent Infant Crying and Hyperactivity Problems in Middle Childhood, Pediatrics, 2002; 109:1054-1060. 
  3. Decreased IQ

Ferber who is responsible for the “ferber” method of cry-it-out sleep training says, “Occasionally, as parents increase the time they wait before responding, their child cries so hard he throws up. If that happens, go in even though the time isn’t up yet. Clean your child up and change the sheets and pajamas as needed. But do so quickly and matter-of-factly, and then leave again.”  That can not be the normal, biological response of a mother.  

Even people who agree with responding to an infant’s cries during the first few months tend to think that there is a certain age where you are just spoiling a child.  Six months, 12 months, etc.  Whatever arbitrary cut off – they feel that they need to learn to “self soothe” and cry it out.  I don’t believe that love and attention are things you can spoil a child with.  Toys, money, material things lead to spoiling.  Hugging your child when he is crying is not spoiling.  Children who are securely attached to their parents learn that the world is not a scary place and are actually more independent as they grow older.  

And crying is good for their lungs like bleeding is good for the veins!


2 thoughts on “Crying is Good for a Baby’s Lungs

  1. I agree with you entirely. In fact, there’s now research that shows that an infant that does not need to cry to get its parents’ attention to meet its needs will not cry as much as a toddler/older child.

    I try to pick up and feed Jack before he starts to cry (but after I know he’s not just grunting and rooting around in his sleep). It’s an intuitive thing. Anyway, I find that he feeds well and then goes back to sleep quietly and comfortably when I do this… not to mention the fact that my Hubby and the Wondertwins aren’t woken up by a screaming baby.

    There’s a good book about teaching your child to “self soothe” that doesn’t require traumatic abandonment and crying it out. I can’t remember the exactly title, but it’s something about “Healthy Baby, Healthy Sleep” or some such thing. Let me know if you’re interested in the book and I will get the proper title for you.


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