Will Crying at Night Harm Your Baby?

If you’re hoping to get your baby to the place where he is going to sleep through the night (and most of us are hoping that will come sooner rather than later) you’re going to experience some crying at night. When your baby does start to cry at night, you have a decision: do you jump up and try to figure out what’s wrong immediately, or do you let him work it out a bit? Your answer to that question can, sometimes, affect how soon your baby sleeps through the night.

Many parents may make it more difficult for their baby to sleep through the night if they get up every time the baby is crying at night. However, most experts believe that letting your little one cry for a little while – and try to self-soothe – is the best way to get her to the place where she’ll sleep for longer periods of time.

This doesn’t mean, of course, that you have to stay in bed. It doesn’t mean you can’t stand in the doorway to check on your baby’s crib, just out of sight. What it does mean is that holding your baby, picking him up, talking to him, or even engaging in eye contact can reduce your baby’s motivation to try to self-soothe.

Of course, when your baby is very young, your baby is going to cry at night because he’s hungry or has another specific need. If your baby is crying at night and it’s been two hours since his last feeding, there’s a good chance he’s hungry again, for example. And, your baby’s not going to self-soothe if his diaper is full.

For about those first three months, you’ll have to base your efforts around baby’s eating schedule. If it’s only been about an hour since his last feeding, give him a minute to work it out. If it’s been three hours, there’s a good chance he’s just hungry.

In the end, learning to let your child cry at night a little bit before you attend to her benefits both you and your baby. Don’t be neglectful, and feel free to check in on your little one, but don’t rush up rob her of the opportunity to learn to self-soothe.