When Babies Cry

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Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.



By: Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.

Fort Fairfield Journal, May 5, 2010

You know the debate that's been raging for decades of when you're baby's crying should you pick your baby up, or should you let your baby cry it out. There's been a real string of debates around this issue. A generation ago, moms mothers would often tell you that you are spoiling that child if you comfort it while crying. They'll tell you that you've got to just put that kid in bed, follow the routine, it's nap time, just put the kid down and if he cries for an hour, so be it. They would argue that's teaching your child not to manipulate you through tears.

Anybody who's a mom, I'm sure can say right off the bat that when a baby cries all they want to do is pick the baby up, coddle and nurture it, you want to be a mommy. Well, research is now proving your instincts are absolutely true. There's a new study out that says that when you comfort a crying baby, "good" chemicals are released into the baby's brain that help it to grow, mature and feel confident in the world. When baby's cry and they are not responded to, Cortisol is released into their bloodstream.

Cortisol is the "stress chemical". We all feel it when we're under stress. For example, it's the feeling you get when your boss yells at you, or you find out from your mechanic it's going to be $750 to repair the brakes on your husband's car, that releases Cortisol - I big very powerful bunch of nasty chemicals that go into your bloodstream. Cortisol has been linked with all kinds of health problems. Testing Cortisol levels is a pretty standard test these days.

Researchers tested babies who were comforted by their mommies versus babies who were allowed to cry it out and hands down, without any question, comforting the baby is best.

Now, anyone who's been around babies knows you can't always comfort the baby. You might carry the baby around, attempting to comfort it and he or she keeps crying for hours, anyway. But that's not where they found the real Cortisol releases. Rather, it was released in the babies who were crying - even for short periods of time - and receiving no response from their caregiver or parent. That's all the more reason to believe love makes the world go 'round.

There's a new book out, covering this research, entitled The Essential First Year: What Babies Need Parents to Know, by Dr. Penelope Leach. She argues that allowing Cortisol to build up in the baby's brain can cause long term damage, potentially even brain damage, in those developing brains. So moms out there, love your babies. Goodness is always better than badness.

This editorial was transcribed and adapted for print from a recent Katherine Albrecht radio program, by David Deschesne, with her permission.  Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D. is a syndicated radio talk show host on the Genesis Communication Network. Listen to her program live daily, or download her podcast for listening at any time at www.gcnlive.com Katherine’s website is:  www.katherinealbrecht.com