I just had the pleasure of spending the weekend with my five-week old granddaughter, Eleanor!

She made her first visit to grandma and grandpa’s house, so it was quite the event.  The house was sterilized from top to bottom… well maybe just cleaned… a little.

(My motto is, “Dull women have clean houses,” so I could not betray my kindred spirits and go overboard. Can anyone relate?)

As they pulled in the driveway we rushed to the car, vying to be the first one to hold her.  I definitely had the advantage as grandpa is in wheelchair and great grandma walks with a cane.  I was in the lead down the driveway when my husband threatened to run over me with his chair if I put my hands on her first.  Since this was his first meeting with this little princess, and being the magnanimous person that I am, I let him go first…reluctantly.

All weekend cameras were snapping, friends were oohing and aahing – grandma and grandpa parading around with her like proud peacocks.

She was the center of attention.  This is as it should be.

The house is now deafeningly silent after enjoying three days of hearing her wonderful baby sounds.  I love the little squeaks, sighs and gurgles that newborns make.

It is amazing how in 5 short weeks, my daughter and her husband are learning to recognize the meaning of her cries and wiggles.  The diapered bottom twitching in the air accompanied by little squeaks means, “Change me.”   The “feed me” cry is punctuated with smacking lips.  And when she takes a bath, the “get me out of here” cry is the most intense of all.

Like dancers attuned to one another’s steps they are learning to waltz together.   She signals and they respond – not always in sync but getting it right a majority of the time.

I am often asked, “Is it okay to let a baby cry it out?”

To answer that question, it’s first necessary to understand the meaning of a baby’s cry.  I once heard a pastor say that a baby’s cry is evidence of our fallen state and innate selfishness.

I beg to differ.

A baby’s cry is her God-given voice to communicate her needs.  Babies always cry for a reason – usually to signal discomfort or fear.

They cry when they are hungry, sleepy, wet, poopy, uncomfortable, afraid or simply want human contact. Sometimes they cry to “let off steam.” When we respond to a baby’s cry in a timely and affectionate manner we give her a “voice.” She learns she is not helpless and can make things happen to get her needs met.   She learns that the world is a safe place where others can be counted on to meet her needs.

This fundamental understanding allows her to venture out into the world with optimism and confidence.

Research shows that babies who are responded to in a timely, consistent and responsive manner are more easily soothed than babies who are not.  By one year of age they will cry less than babies who are responded to with inconsistency, irritation, and left to cry it out.

Listen to your baby’s “voice” and learn to dance with her.  I’d love to hear your responses!

(Click here to read Part Two)