Baby playing on Sleepout Crib Mattress

The Four Things that Happen if you Let a Baby Cry for Too Long

Letting a baby cry for too long refers to the practice of not immediately responding to a baby's cries and allowing them to continue crying for an extended period of time. This is a topic of concern for many because prolonged crying can have negative effects on a baby's physical and emotional well-being. 

Many folks in the Sleepout community understand that this is a poor practice for babies but may not have all the medical reasons as to why understood. 

Prolonged crying can cause a baby's stress levels to increase, leading to a state of exhaustion and a decrease in their oxygen levels. This can be dangerous and potentially lead to long-term health problems. In addition, letting a baby cry for too long can also have negative effects on the parent-child relationship, as the baby may become less attached and less trusting of their caregiver.

Parents should respond to a baby's cries to promote their physical and emotional well-being and foster a healthy parent-child relationship. Here is what can happen if a baby’s cries go unheard: 

Baby laughing holding Sleepout Portable blackout curtain

Stress Levels Increase

When a baby is left to cry for an extended period of time, their stress levels increase. This is because crying is a natural response to distress, and when a baby is not immediately comforted, they may become more and more upset. As their crying continues, their body will release the stress hormone cortisol, which can have negative effects on their physical and emotional well-being.

Excessive levels of cortisol can weaken a baby's immune system, making them more susceptible to illness. It can also affect their brain development and have long-term effects on their behavior and emotional regulation. In addition, prolonged crying can also lead to a state of exhaustion for the baby, which can cause them to become less alert and less able to interact with their environment.

One way to reduce cortisol levels in babies is to promote healthy sleep habits, such as ensuring that the baby's sleep environment is conducive to rest. One way to do this is to use blackout curtains to create a dark and peaceful sleep environment for the baby. Blackout curtains block out light, which can be disruptive to a baby's sleep and also provide a sense of security and can help the baby relax and fall asleep more easily. 

Baby sleeping on Sleepout Crib Mattress

A State of Exhaustion Occurs

Prolonged crying can lead to a state of exhaustion for a baby, which can cause them to become less alert and less able to interact with their environment. When a baby is crying, they are using a lot of energy and expending a lot of physical effort. If they are not comforted and their crying continues for an extended period of time, they may become exhausted and their body may begin to shut down.

Exhaustion can cause a baby to become less alert and less responsive to their surroundings. They may become drowsy and have difficulty staying awake, even when they are being held or cuddled. This can make it difficult for them to interact with their environment and engage with their caregiver.

In addition to causing exhaustion, prolonged crying can also have other negative effects on a baby's physical and emotional well-being. It can lead to a decrease in their oxygen levels, which can be dangerous and potentially lead to long-term health problems. It can also affect their brain development and have long-term effects on their behavior and emotional regulation.

 Baby lying on Sleepout Crib Mattress in neutral nursery

Decrease in Oxygen Levels

Prolonged crying can lead to a decrease in a baby's oxygen levels, which can be dangerous and potentially lead to long-term health problems. When a baby is crying, they are using a lot of energy and expending a lot of physical effort. This can cause their heart rate and breathing rate to increase, which in turn can lead to a decrease in their oxygen levels.

A decrease in oxygen levels can be dangerous for a baby's health. It can lead to a condition called hypoxia, in which the body and brain are not getting enough oxygen. This can cause a baby to become lethargic, confused, and unresponsive, and can potentially lead to long-term health problems, such as brain damage.

In addition to the potential for long-term health problems, a decrease in oxygen levels can also have more immediate effects on a baby's well-being. It can cause them to become irritable and agitated, which can make it more difficult for them to be comforted. This can lead to a vicious cycle, in which the baby continues to cry and their oxygen levels continue to decrease.

 Mom and baby installing Sleepout Portable blackout curtain in nursery

Negative Effects on Parent-Child Relationship

It is important for babies to feel secure and loved, and one way they do this is by forming a strong attachment to their caregivers, usually their parents. When a baby is consistently left to cry for long periods of time without being comforted, they may start to feel anxious and unsure of their caregiver's availability and responsiveness. This can lead to a decrease in the attachment and trust between the baby and their caregiver, which can have negative effects on the parent-child relationship. Babies who are not adequately comforted and nurtured may have difficulty forming healthy attachments and may be at a higher risk for developmental and emotional issues later in life. It is important for caregivers to respond to a baby's cries in a timely and appropriate manner to help foster a strong, trusting relationship.

This is bad for the parent too. When a baby is consistently left to cry for long periods of time without being comforted, it can be emotionally taxing for the parent. The sound of a baby's tears can be distressing for many parents, and it can be difficult to see your child in distress without being able to comfort them. This can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness. 

In some cases, it may even cause a rift in the parent-child relationship, as the baby may start to view their caregiver as unreliable or unresponsive. Additionally, the stress and emotional strain of constantly having to ignore a crying baby can take a toll on a parent's mental health, potentially leading to feelings of depression, anxiety, and burnout. It is important for caregivers to find healthy and effective ways of responding to a baby's cries to maintain a strong and positive parent-child relationship.

Toddler napping in neutral toddler bed with white sheets

In conclusion, letting a baby cry for too long can have negative effects on their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. It can cause increased levels of stress hormones, which can have negative effects on the baby's brain and immune system. It can also lead to a decrease in attachment and trust between the baby and their caregiver, which can have negative effects on the parent-child relationship. Additionally, it can be emotionally taxing for the caregiver, potentially leading to feelings of guilt, frustration, and burnout. It is important for caregivers to respond to a baby's cries in a timely and appropriate manner to help promote healthy development and foster a strong, loving relationship.

Creating a proper sleep environment can be helpful in preventing a baby from crying for long periods of time.  A sleep environment that is conducive to sleep can help a baby feel safe and secure, which can make it easier for them to fall and stay asleep. This can include factors such as darkness, the right temperature, a comfortable and supportive mattress, and some high-quality blackout curtains to create the most comfortable sleep-promoting environment to help baby self-regulate.

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