Why do Babies Cry?

It’s been a busy, hectic day. Everyone wants your attention. Everyone is demanding something from you. If only they’d leave you to just get the jobs done, instead of the constant barrage of interruptions. FINALLY, kids in bed, washing up finished. You sit down for an hour of relaxation to wind down before bed. Except, the door bell goes and now the baby is crying. Why? Why do they do that? Why do Babies Cry?

Why do Babies Cry? Did you know that babies feel stress just like we do? How their brain develops is really interesting!

What is that thing that you feel right now? That feeling of everyone wanting you to do something but not being left alone for 2 minutes?

It’s STRESS! It is our body’s response to a perceived danger.

Hold that thought for a minute and let me explain how your baby’s brain works.

Have you noticed how much babies cry? How sometimes they cry when they’re a little bit upset and sometimes they’re REALLY stressed about something? Well, there’s a good reason for that and it’s all to do with how your baby’s brain works.

Babies use the Reptilian Brain

How our baby’s brain develops is so interesting. A baby’s brain uses what the NBA (neurocognitive and behavioural approach) call your ‘reptilian brain’.

Your reptilian brain is quite basic and as you can probably guess, it’s shared with lots of other animals, including reptiles.

It has two basic settings, ‘standby’ and ‘cry’. Yep, that’s your baby. Your baby is either happy and content, on ‘standby’ or stressed about a perceived danger ‘cry’.

The Reptilian Brain is Activated in Dangerous Situations

The reptilian brain is activated in a life and death situation. It is a survival instinct. When it’s activated, we feel stress, a defence mechanism to a perceived danger.

We can exhibit that stress in three ways.

  1. Fight. We square up to fight. In both adults and children, this may be seen as aggressive behaviour.
  2. Flight. We run away. This can be seen as anxiety.
  3. Freeze. The rabbit in the headlight. We feel helpless to do anything.

Babies Cry as they Perceive Danger

How does your baby respond to stress? They can’t exactly runaway or get out their boxing gloves. In your baby, all three of these stress responses are exhibited as crying.

Babies perceive pretty much everything as danger. “I’m hungry!” Danger! “I’m wet!” Danger! “I’m bored!” Danger! “I’m tired!” Danger! “I’m over stimulated!” Danger! “There’s a doggy!” Danger!

Learn to Understand your Baby’s Cry

When your baby cries, they might be experiencing the fight response or the flight response or the freeze response. Each response needs a different approach which you will learn as you get to know your baby.

The trick as a parent, is learning which stress response they are exhibiting and acting appropriately. Untangling what your baby’s cry means can be really difficult, especially at the beginning when everything is new.

Parents Don’t Always Get it Right. That’s OK.

But trust yourself! Listen to your baby and you’ll figure it out and learn what they’re trying to say. Of course, there may be days when you “get it wrong”, when you don’t understand what they’re trying to say or why they’re crying. That’s OK. It happens to most parents and yes, it’s stressful!

Babies Feel Stress

Remember that thing that you felt when everyone was demanding attention? That stress thing? Well, that’s exactly the same stress as your baby feels and yes, that’s your reptilian brain in action. By now, you have lots of other parts of your brain working so you can choose which ones to use. You can teach yourself to use different bits of your brain. Your baby can’t. It’s not until they reach two years of age that other bits of the brain start to develop.

The clever thing about all this stress response? Your baby’s cry is designed to trigger a stress response in you. Neat eh? That’s why babies cry. The best way they can get you to do something is to make you stressed so that you’ll do something to stop them crying.

Now you just have to figure out what!

Why do Babies Cry? Did you know that babies feel stress just like we do? How their brain develops is really interesting!

Neuroscience for Parents and Discount Code

This article is based on information from an online course that I did called Neuroscience for Parents which is taught by Gregory Caremans, a neurocognitive and behavioural expert. He explains how the brain develops, how this affects our child’s behaviour and most importantly, how we can behave as parents to raise amazing children.

I really loved the course. In fact I did it twice it was so interesting (and so that I could take notes to share some of it with you.)

If you’d like to know more about the course you can check it out here. (affiliate link.)

Raising Amazing Kids Discount Code

The normal price is $47 but Greg has kindly given a 25 % discount to my readers. If you apply this code RDS7XROS8S. Really a small price to pay for raising amazing kids.