Babies cry – why can’t we?

When a baby is born, there is a moment when everyone in the delivery room holds a collective breath, which is released at the first cry. We respond to this with relief and joy. This cry sets the tone for many weeks to come! While we sometimes feel frustrated when we hear it because we can’t figure out a problem, or exhausted from lack of sleep, we are always completely accepting that crying is simply something babies do. It is almost their only way of communicating that they need us do do something for them. Sometimes the cry is a tired cry and we know to rock them. Sometimes it’s a hungry one and we know to feed them. If we leave them too long the cry can become an angry one and we smile at the cuteness of it.

At around six weeks, babies smile for the first time. There is once again great excitement. We do everything short of stand on our heads to elicit this wonderful curve of their mouths. They still cry but now we have another goal, another solution – we aim for the smile. All things being equal, life progresses. They laugh, they throw tantrums and finally they learn to talk. I sometime wonder whether talking, meant to be the ultimate in communication, diminishes it. When babies begin talking, we finally have the tools to instruct rather than respond. We can now say things like, “you’re okay,” “it’s not necessary to cry,” or even “that’s enough.” We no longer find it necessary to pay close attention to our baby’s non-verbal cues and interpret what they want. We expect them to tell us. “Stop crying and tell me what’s wrong,” we say.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we cry our way through life but I do think we all need to hold on to and value the uncomfortable feelings that we have. If we give them our full attention, they can help us understand ourselves and then make decisions about our lives. Very often we learn more from our uncomfortable feelings than our comfortable ones. It’s a natural human tendency to want to avoid difficult  feelings so we have to view embracing them the same way that we look at workouts and healthy eating. We would rather not but the end justifies the means! We should remember that in the beginning we love and value our baby’s cry, for what it tells us and simply for the fact that it exists as a part of their humanness.