How to soothe a crying baby?

It's important to remember that babies can't communicate with words, so they use their cries to express what they want or need. Babies cry a lot, and this can be confusing and frustrating for parents. It is, of course, a good idea to let a baby cry, but only for a short while, before comforting him or her.

There are many reasons why babies cry, and there's no single solution to soothe them. Babies may cry to express hunger, thirst, pain, or simply because they're tired. Parents should try to understand the cause of the baby's crying, so they can help him or her to calm down.

Should you let a baby cry?

The theory is that if you don't respond to his cries, the little being will learn that he's not worth crying over. Richard Ferber, author of Solve Your Child's Sleep Problemsis the best-known proponent of this theory, called Ferber Method.

According to him, most young children should sleep through the night by the age of 3 or 4 months. If your baby still doesn't sleep through the night at four months, try experimenting to solve the problem:

  • Put him to bed when he's awake. You can start a little later than usual, so that he's well tired. If he cries, check on him at regular intervals to calm him down, without turning on the light or hugging him (Ferber, 2006).
  • On the first night, start by checking on him every three minutes, then five and finally ten minutes. After a week, increase the interval between visits, until you're only seeing him every 20 to 30 minutes.
  • When you visit your treasure, make sure he's not embarrassed by his sleeping bag, or that he hasn't lost his comforter or pacifier. Speak reassuringly to him and then leave. Don't stay in the room for more than a minute or two. If he takes off his blanket or throws his comforter on the floor while he's alone, don't give it back until the next time you come by.
  • .

Your baby will eventually learn to fall asleep on his own. Ferber points out, however, that this one-size-fits-all approach does not apply to all babies (Ferber R, 2006).

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (Mindell et al 2006) reviewed the different methods of falling asleep, including crying. The conclusion is that there is no single ideal approach to solving sleep problems. sleep of your baby.

All methods work if you follow one simple golden rule: be consistent.

So what should you do? Let your baby cry or not

A parent comforts a crying baby.
This question is the subject of much debate. Is there an alternative to the Ferber method? Here's what other early childhood experts have to say about crying babies.

Penelope Leach Author of Your Baby and Child

  • His approach Listen to your baby's cries. If you let your baby cry, he'll feel abandoned and scared every time you leave him, whether it's before bedtime or at any other time of the day".
  • When to react Start "acting" before your baby is about 9 months old. Babies don't know that the night is for sleeping until they're that age.
  • What to do It's all about helping your baby to associate bedtime with a happy, calm and reassuring moment, and to fall asleep on his own. Don't give up just yet! Maintain pleasant bedtime rituals. If your baby criesGo into his room as often as necessary, reassure him and then leave. Leach writes: "You may have to repeat this ritual many times, but it's the only sure way to convince your baby that you'll be back and won't abandon him" (Leach P, 2003).

T Berry Brazelton Author of Touchpoints

  • His approach Be present, but let the child cry. Before using this method, consult your partner to ensure absolute consistency.
  • When to react The age of the baby: it depends on your child. It could be at the age of 6 months or 2 years. Brazelton urges parents to examine their own and their child's motivations before starting this approach.
  • What to do : avoid afternoon naps after 3 p.m., keep a good night's sleep bedtime ritual affectionate and reassuring, don't breastfeed or rock your baby to sleep. Put him to bed awake and stay with him to reassure him. Tell him you're there, but he can go to sleep on his own.

Be prepared to be woken every four hours or so. If your baby cries, go to him gently and try not to stimulate him. Don't hold him or rock him. Calm him down and reassure him. As soon as you feel more comfortable, don't go towards him, but talk to him and reassure him. Suggest, for example, that he snuggle up to his comforter. Next step: wait 15 minutes before reacting to his crying, and repeat the previous step (Brazelton TB, 2006).

Benjamin Spock Author of Baby and Child Care

  • His approach Let the child cry!
  • When to react From 3 months of age.
  • What to do Say goodnight to your baby without turning around. Normally, after three nights of crying without intervention, your baby will fall asleep on his own." Spock explains that most babies cry for up to 30 minutes the first night. They realize it's pointless and eventually fall asleep. He writes, "I am convinced that at this age they cry only out of anger... Looking at the baby only reinforces his anger and prolongs his crying even more." (Spock B, 2005)

William Sears Author of The Baby Book

  • His approach Sears' approach to crying is to sleep with the baby, or other similar approaches. According to Sears, "the result [of crying] is always the same: a tense mother and an angry baby who ends up exhausted and asleep. But at what cost? Crying should definitely be avoided to help the baby fall asleep".
  • When to act From infancy onwards, until children are ready to sleep in their own bed.
  • What to do You can share your bed with your baby for the first few months of life. According to Sears, a mother and baby sleep better and longer when lying side by side. The baby is warmer, feels more secure and has a breast within reach when hungry. What's more, babies grow better if they sleep close to their parents. Once a mother has gone back to work, sleeping with her baby can help her create a new bond with her baby and overcome the separation.

If co-sleeping isn't your cup of tea, or if you're worried about your baby's safety, you can find more suggestions from Sears to help your baby sleep through the night here:

  • Think about why your baby wakes up and cries at night. Pay attention to his cries, try to decipher them and calm him down.
  • Take it in turns with your partner. A breast-fed baby often calls for his mother at night, even if he no longer needs to suckle. If your partner also gets up, your baby will learn to be reassured by him too. He may even stop calling you if he knows he's out of food!

  • Give your baby a stuffed toy and help him associate it with bedtime (Sears W, 2005).

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