Managing Tears - Let's Chat Crying!Dec 07, 2023
Lets talk about crying and sleep!
Tears are tough
It’s so hard hearing your baby cry – we are hard wired to respond to their tears! But that word right there is the key, RESPONDING - our response makes the BIGGEST difference when it comes to tears and there is a HUGE difference between crying in arms of a truly responsive caregiver and crying alone. In fact, the cortisol rise baby experiences when they do cry by themselves doesn’t occur when helped! Incredible 😱😱
When we make any kind of 'parent lead' change, it will be really normal for your baby to have an emotional response to that change.
How big the change is, as well as your baby's temperament are just some of the things that can impact what this looks like for your little one.
It can be helpful to remember that tears are a really normal part of infancy - tears in and of themselves are not bad or something to be afraid of, but knowing how to support them can be so helpful when it comes to making changes in the day, or at night time!
Consider what tears are
It can be helpful to start to think about what tears are. They are your baby's only way of communicating with you that they need some help or support and they are a natural and healthy release when your little one is feeling overwhelmed.
As parents, our job isn't to 'stop' tears, but to know how to support them. We want our children to be able to freely express ALL of their emotions with us, knowing that their needs (whether physical needs or the need for connection) will be met.
But isn't that "crying it out"?
Absolutely NOT! It isn't realistic or even fair of us to expect our children to never cry, but the key difference here is our response to tears and we always want to respond to our baby's emotions, both in the day and at night time.
Research has concluded that being held and soothed by a responsive caregiver eliminates the stress response even a baby continues to cry - this means that by responding to your disregulated infant, your co-regulation is tangibly changing their experience, how cool is that?!
This is why crying in the arms of a loving and responsive caregiver and crying it out couldn't be further apart!
Tears are not the enemy
While tears may be an inevitable part of infancy and making change, we can still support our little ones through these changes and hard times - this is the core of our focus on 1:1 consultations.
How do we make changes to things that aren't working anymore while STILL supporting baby through the process? Changing the comfort, NOT removing the comfort all together.
If you are changing the way your little one is settled to sleep, it can be helpful to consider HOW ELSE you can support them to sleep. If you are moving away from feeding to sleep for example, can you hold and rock them to sleep instead?
Holding space for emotions
Holding space for your baby's emotions and supporting them through changes can be part of this process, so how can we do that? What are some examples of what this ACTUALLY looks like?
- Calm and ground yourself so you can effectively co-regulate with your baby - be the calm you want them to have
- Simply supporting and calming baby in your arms (if they will allow you)
- If your baby will allow, using physical touch like holding their hand, stroking their hair, rubbing their back or patting their bum etc
- Using your physical presence to calm and support your baby if you are getting strong vibes they really don't want to be touched
- Empathizing with and reassuring them "I know, its hard to not feed to sleep, I am here, let cuddle to sleep instead"
- Leaning into their emotions rather than away - think of yourself as their emotional bucket
I hope you found this helpful!
Hey! If you need additional help, we’ve got you covered!
Have a peek at how we can help your family get better sleep without sleep training. And be sure to join our mailing list so we can keep in touch!
1:1 Consultations (Worldwide!): HERE. We can support you in managing your baby's tears and sleep in a truly responsive way that focuses on attachment rather than separation.
The Gentle Sleep Coach Membership: HERE
On Demand Sleep Guides: HERE