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Communicating that Babies Need to Cry

I am a sixty-one-year-old white woman with three grown children. For the past fourteen years I have been working in Early Intervention, visiting families who have babies with some kind of difficulty learning or growing. I usually visit weekly for an hour, so I have a chance to develop strong relationships with both the mothers and the children.

Usually the mother’s memory of the birth experience is still strong. I like to help her think about the baby’s memory of that same experience. Sometimes she can understand that the baby has some things that he or she might need to cry about. But that doesn’t mean that she’s ready to stay connected to the baby while he or she cries. I almost never meet anyone who doesn’t feel it is imperative to stop the baby from crying. Sometimes I can get a mom to realize that she herself feels better after crying; then for a brief time she can believe that the baby would like to cry too. But soon the sound of the crying gets too restimulating.

I love to pay attention to babies. However, as soon as we have a connection, the baby usually starts crying and then any other person within hearing feels like I’m not doing it right and takes the baby from me. My best successes are when an older child is getting off the school bus and the mother asks me to hold the baby while she goes outside to meet the bus. The baby starts crying, and when Mom gets back I say, “He missed you.”

Mara Pentlarge

Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from a newsletter for people who have communicated with the Information Coordinator for Birth Workers

(Present Time 186, January 2017)


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00