We’ve probably all heard different stories about what is best for crying babies. Some say it is best to leave babies to cry to ‘exercise’ their lungs, some say leaving babies to cry is healthy for them, whilst others suggest that babies should be left to cry because if we pick them up too much, we will spoil them!
An abundance of neuroscience information tells us that it is in fact dangerous to leave babies to cry because they do not have the ability to calm themselves down and manage or self regulate their own emotions. Simply put, the part of the brain that helps humans to regulate their emotions (frontal lobe) is not yet developed in babies and toddlers and is not fully developed until children are between 5 – 7 years old. Leaving them to cry therefore floods their brain and body with stress hormones.
Which means that babies and toddlers need us, parents and other care givers, to help them to calm down and to show them how to manage their emotions. They are not able to do this without our help. This information also has great significance for the so-called ‘terrible twos’ phase where two year olds are ‘labelled as terrible’ because of the tantrums that does and can occur at this age and stage of a child’s development. The reassurance and helping them to calm down still applys here.