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Ask your baby
Magda Gerber, a respected authority on infants, when asked about how to stop a baby's crying, advises us to "ask the baby." As difficult as that seems, this advice can help us communicate to baby that we trust her as the authority on her feelings and condition. Careful observation, review of past experiences and sensitive trial and error are wonderful tools for learning to listen to our babies. When we focus on listening, rather than on simply stopping the crying, our babies have the experience of someone's full and responsive attention. Rather than having someone who is running through a list of "tricks" aimed at making her quiet, she has the experience of someone who wants to truly help her feel better.
Often well-meaning, caring parents will jiggle, swing, bounce, tickle, plug-up or otherwise try to distract their baby from the real source of the crying. It is as if parents can convince themselves that baby is feeling better if they can just get her to stop crying. Some babies might be distractable and stop crying for a while, even if the source of their discomfort isn't fixed. While this may serve to calm her parents, baby ends up confused, with her need still unmet. After repeated experiences like this, she may forget how to read and express her own feelings. She may learn that when uncomfortable feelings come, she isn't supposed to let her parents know she has them. Eventually, she may lose her ability to communicate or even fully experience her feelings.