Below is an expert from Dr. Lewis Jassey and Jonathan Jassey’s “The Newborn Sleep Book,” which promises to train your baby how to sleep through the night.
Forget What You Think You Know About Crying
Dogs are going to bark, birds are going to chirp, and babies are going to cry.
Crying is their primary mode of communication. It’s as simple as that.
To most of us, a crying baby seems like a problem—one of those problems that needs immediate solving, at that. After all, with few exceptions, it’s certainly a problem when an adult cries. It seems unlikely that even the happiest baby could possibly be crying tears of joy.
To be sure, there are times when a baby will cry because there’s a problem. We’ll go over those problems later in this chapter.
But the counterintuitive reality is that there are just as many times when your baby will cry when there isn’t a problem.
Reasonably dealing with crying is crucial to successful sleep training, whether you’re using the Jassey Way or another method. (Notice how many sleep training books contain the word cry in the title.) But handling your crying baby in a rational, thoughtful manner will aid virtually every other facet of parenting, so even if you’re not sleep training, you and your baby will benefit from a better understanding of how crying serves different functions for babies than for adults.
Crying Is Crawling
For babies, the key function of crying is to serve as their main mode of communication—of happy, unhappy and random thoughts alike. It might sound funny for us to point this out, but it’s worth reminding ourselves while we’re talking about crying: Babies can’t talk. This is important to remember because it adds necessary context to their crying.
If you can accept that crying is a sort of primitive version of your baby’s speech—instead of automatically viewing it as an expression of discomfort—then you’ll be better able to react to it in a calm, sensible manner. It’s fair to look at the way crying exercises the mouth and vocal cords as a sort of verbal crawling; you have to crawl before you can walk, and you have to cry be- fore you can talk.
If your baby never cried, we’d have a lot to be concerned about, particularly in terms of neurological development. So in a way, you should be thrilled by some healthy crying. (Okay, if not thrilled, then at least a little relieved.)
If you can adopt that attitude—and we’re not saying it’s easy!—sleep training your baby will become much less challenging. Successful sleep training, like so many other tasks of parenting, requires careful and patient effort. If you worry that your baby is in pain every time she cries, it will be impossible to maintain that care and patience.
We need to operate from this baseline: Crying is always communication, but it’s not always a communication of pain or discomfort.
Of course, as we’ve said, sometimes crying is an expression of discomfort or pain on the part of the baby. That’s why our second baseline is: Hunger is not the only thing that causes babies discomfort.
(In fact, if you stick to our sleep training method, which makes sure that your baby gets the necessary number of calories per day to promote healthy weight gain and development, your baby’s crying will almost never be an expression of hunger.)