A cry is a cry, right?
Children cry for a whole range of reasons. Infants cry, as it’s their only way to communicate. Toddlers cry when they are sad, frustrated or even mad. Preschoolers cry because sometimes it’s tough not getting your own way. Even adults cry, because we’re sad, mad, angry, frustrated or just because! But are all cries equal?
So what has prompted me to write this post about crying and sleep? Well I’m writing this on an airplane. I’ve just taken off from Atlanta and I’ll be landing in Louisville in around 40 minutes. I boarded the plane and we left the gate. We had to wait in a very long line of aircraft before we took off. I was dozing in my seat (I have been up since 4 am!) and as we were moving along the line getting nearer the front and ready for take off, the sound of the engines reminded me of crying, specifically crying during the night.
The engines would rev up as we would inch forward and as the pilot reduced the throttle the engines would quiet down, the engines would get louder again as we moved forward. Each time I was thinking, “is it this time the engines will get really loud and we will take off?” bracing myself for our imminent departure. Alas no, the engines would quite down again as we stopped.
So what does that have to do with a child that’s crying during the night? Well, when your child wakes during the night, take the time to listen to them. Very often it will sound much like the aircraft engines (and at 3am it may seem just as loud!) when we were preparing to take off.
It gets loud and then it gets quiet, loud again and then quiet again. This pattern can go on for anything up to 30 minutes before your child will do one of two things: either fall back asleep, or increase the cry to what I call the Mommy I Need You Now Cry (like the engines did when we finally took off).
What does the loud, quiet cry mean? Well it doesn’t mean Mommy I Need You Now (MINYN)- that cry is very urgent and it’s really been taken up a notch. You’ll certainly know it when you hear it.
The loud, quiet cry is your child trying to get itself back to sleep. They may be feeling a little mad and maybe frustrated, but they don’t need your help. If you give them the opportunity to work it out themselves then I think you’ll find you are pleasantly surprised when your child is able to get itself back to sleep.
What does the MINYNC mean? Well it means just that MINYN. Don’t ever ignore that cry; your child really does need your help. If you’re sleep training use your technique to help your child get back to sleep. If you’re not actively sleep training help your child get back to sleep the way you usually do.