Friday, May 27, 2011

Newborns And Crying Babies

Although newborns are biologically able to produce tears, they usually cry without tears.  Most do not know why this is but it is suggested that the wiring of the emotional brain is simply not complete.  Newborns do not have the emotional maturity needed to cry with tears.  Babies are born with tear ducts that produce enough tears to keep their eyes moist.

Between 2 and 4 months of age, the baby’s emotions begin to kick in.  Triggers such as loneliness, frustration or other emotional situations, cause the nervous system of the baby to stimulate the trigeminal cranial nerve in the brain.  This nerve sends a signal to the tear glands to produce tears.

In birth-traumatized infants, babies need to cry in order to release the trauma.  Crying removes excess stress-related chemicals from the body and help to restore the body’s balance.

Unfortunately in our society, a crying baby can put the baby at risk for child abuse.  In a survey of battered infants, eighty percent of parents reported that excessive crying by their child triggered the abuse according to website.

Most parents desperately want their babies to be happy but those that do not understand the beneficial aspects of crying may feel anxious or incompetent when their baby cries.  It does not help when the parents themselves, were not allowed to express their own tears.

I was alarmed to find that a study done in 1989, that found that 25 percent of babies had been given sedatives such as alcohol or opium by the time they were 18 months old to stop the baby from crying.

As stated in the article, these drugs interfere with the vital healing mechanism of crying.  Furthermore, when the expression of emotions such as crying is repressed by powerful drugs, it most likely would lead to problems later on in life.

Further Reading:
1)  Men And Women Cry Differently
2)  When Is Crying Okay?
3)  Biology Of Crying
4)  Stress Relief and Crying

Sources Of Information:
1)  Read It And Weep, Crybabies - Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2011
2)  Why Do Newborns Cry Without Tears -
3)  Birth Trauma, Crying And Child Abuse -

Blog Post & Images (c) 5/24/11 Don Shetterly - use by permission only

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