There are lots of reasons why babies cry and we can soothe them easily by identifying the reason. Young mothers, and often older ones, seem to forget that the disposition of the children is a matter of inheritance. Some babies are angelic. They sleep peacefully,and even when awake will be cooing and gurgling quite happily.
Others, on the contrary, seem always wailing and discontented. In other words, some babies are born well-behaved and good-tempered, while others have to be broken in. What should we do when the baby cries?
Ninety percent of modern nurses and mothers say, “Let him cry, and he will soon learn not to do so.” Others will advocate the “letting alone” because the crying is just a lung exercise. Now, theories are all very well, and we know that the youngest baby soon finds out when it can get what it wants by crying, yet we must not forget that, as the poet tells us, the baby’s only language is a cry.
Hunger, discomfort, thirst, and the rest must all be expressed by a cry, and it takes patience as well as careful attention to distinguish between a howl of temper, a wail of discomfort, and a cry of emotional stress; of all these the last is the most difficult to diagnose and treat.
The crying may be just a “try on” or because by fear, loneliness, and the rest. A little baby will often cry when he is nursed in an uncomfortable position, held too tightly, or too loosely, or jigged about by one who seems to think that is the right way to treat an infant.
If the child has inherited nervous tendencies it is of no use to try drastic remedies, such as putting him to seep in a room alone, in the dark. Even a tiny baby can be desperately frightened at finding himself alone, or in the presence of something unfamiliar.
The difference between spoiling a child and studying his nervous temperament is very great. Discipline, regularity of routine, and the like, are all very well, but intelligence is needed as well as an understanding of the individual needs of the child.
A child will soon learn whether not a cry will bring the nursing craved, and it is surprising how soon the demand ceases when there is no response. Possibly, the crying is from sheer naughtiness, and not from any real need, and in this case, the young mother will need to go very warily, although it is better for the child and his future that we should err on the side of love.