4 reasons why crying is good for your baby

Discover why when your baby bawls, it actually benefits them more than it harms.

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A baby’s crying is his primary means of communicating emotions — it’s also a healthy sign that signals he’s in good health.

Once outside the womb, your baby’s first cry will kick-start his lungs, which fill up with air — meaning that he’s able to breathe on his own. This also helps clear any residual amniotic fluid from his lungs and nasal passages.

But what if bubba doesn’t cry right away? He may have meconium aspiration syndrome because faeces has entered his airways and lungs, interfering with his breathing. With prompt treatment, most babies usually turn out fine. Here are other reasons why crying is good for your little one:

#1 Helps with communication Crying is baby’s way of telling you to check on his well-being. Every time he cries, try to listen and observe his behaviour, body language and facial expression. Over time, you will be able to interpret different types of cries and act accordingly. For example, when your munchkin is hungry, he’ll cry loudly for a long time combined with finger-sucking.

As long as baby is not crying in distress, normal crying — five to 20 minutes at a stretch — is good exercise for his lungs, as well as to stretch his arms, legs and tummy muscles.

#2 Helps psychological well-being Boost baby’s sense of security by responding quickly and appropriately whenever he cries. Cuddle him close to you — calm him down with your voice, your heartbeat, unique body smell or a gentle rocking motion. Ignoring baby’s prolonged crying can harm his emotional and psychological development. As baby grows, he’ll think it’s normal to suppress his internal “unhappy” emotions, which could impact his psychological well-being later in life. Infants who cry for longer periods also have abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower growth hormones. This inhibits the development of the brain’s nerve tissues, suppresses growth and weakens the immune system. As a result, the child may find comfort through thumb-sucking or develop an over-attachment to a blanket or stuffed animal to numb his feelings of distress.

#3 Helps stretch muscles As long as baby is not crying in distress, normal crying — five to 20 minutes at a stretch — is good exercise for his lungs, as well as to stretch his arms, legs and tummy muscles.

#4 Helps relieve stress Like adults, babies also need an outlet to release their emotions. Hold baby lovingly and allow him to cry until he has released his stressed feelings. This relaxes him, so that he’ll sleep peacefully later.


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Interpreting your baby’s cries…

Tired: Whiny cry — baby’s face looks like he is yawning, and if he is tired, he’ll also rub his eyes. The cry starts slowly and softly, and increases in intensity.

Bored or wants attention: Short and soft intermittent crying. Crying stops when you talk to him or rub his tummy.

Gassy or colicky, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd): When baby is colicky, he’ll cry in a loud, long and high-pitched cries where his face turns red, fists clenched and legs drawn up towards the abdomen. If baby arches his back in the middle of feeding and he cries or spits up excessively, it’s a sign of reflux or Gerd, a condition where the backward flow of acid from the stomach irritates the oesophagus.

Pain or discomfort: It’s a high wailing cry to release tension and attract attention. He may pause in between and cry loudly suddenly. Check if his diaper is wet or if he’s feeling too hot or cold.

Feeling unwell: The cry is weak and soft sounds. Often, baby wants to be held all the time.

When baby is colicky, he’ll cry in a loud, long and high-pitched cries where his face turns red, fists clenched and legs drawn up towards the abdomen.

7 ways to soothe a crying baby…


Try white noise
A rushing sound — like a waterfall or the whirling of the washing machine — will calm bub as it mimics the sounds baby heard in the womb. You can also “shush-shush” in his ear.

Check his clothing Baby might feel uncomfortable because of what he’s wearing. Check that the clothing label’s not bothering him, or maybe the diaper tape might be stuck to his skin.

Sucking Give baby something to suck on — a pacifier, your finger or your breast.

Snuggling Hold baby close to your chest and shower him with kisses, while maintaining eye contact.

Move around Put him in a baby swing or vibrating bassinet. Rock him in your arms as you sing or stroke his back gently. Put him in a stroller and walk around the neighbourhood, or go for a car ride.

Give baby a warm bath Giving a warm bath can help him or her to relax. Plus, it increases melatonin levels which will help calm baby down and help them sleep better.

Massage baby Lay baby belly-down across your knees. Gently rub his back to release gas. For a soothing massage, slowly stroke his legs, back, arms, chest and face.

Photos: iStock

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