Recently, I wrote about a study carried out by Finnish and Swedish scientists since the 1950’s which concluded that science cannot tell why your baby is crying.
I have a friend who is currently on maternity leave after having her first child, and it seems unacceptable that crying babies should still remain a scientific mystery. After all, babies have been around for over a century, and have been crying since at least the 1950’s (apparently).
So I decided while I was driving home from work this evening to research the problem myself, so that I could come to an informed conclusion regarding this thorny dilemma.
(Disclaimer: Thorns, if used incorrectly, will cause babies to cry. Please be responsible.)
(Disclaimer #2: The following explanation is 100% informed conclusion-free. No research was utilized in the writing of this explanation.)
I decided to approach the problem using deductive logic. (Disclaimer: If your doctor induced labor, inductive logic is more appropriate. If your child was delivered using technology, such as a C-section, you might just as well send your baby to Finland/Sweden to be experimented on, for all the good it will do.)
First, let’s eliminate some of the old wives’ tales. Most layparents attribute crying to the child being hungry, or needing to be changed, or needing to be held, or needing to be rocked. That is just ridiculous. Babies are the most fed, most changed, and most cuddled class in modern society. If cuddling children worked, the only time you’d hear babies cry is when they were left in airports to be raised by feral children whose parents forgot to take them home.
About the only time babies don’t cry is before they’re born, so this seems like a good place to start. If unborn babies don’t cry, and born babies cry at the drop of a hat, maybe there’s a difference between being born and not born that acts as a contributing factor to crying. Let’s take a look:
Before Being Born
Prior to being born, babies spend upwards of 9 months living in a dark, secluded, sack of goo by themselves, where they spend most of their time lying around absorbing nutrients and entertaining themselves by kicking the sack of goo. In some cases, babies will agree to share their goo-sack with a sibling, where they spend their time competing to be born first by kickboxing each other, turning their living quarters into a goo-filled Thunderdome. (These combative babies, known as “twins”, often share many common genetic features, like those of Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured above)). These homebound babies often receive audio signals from outside the goo sack, providing a preview of life in the outside world. A father might come up next to the baby’s wall and impart worldly wisdom, which the baby will hear as, “Wwwb wbbb wwwwwwb wb wwb”. Some mothers sing to their children, anything from traditional songs like “Wwwb wbbb wwwwwwb wb wwb” to modern hits like Taylor Swift’s “Wwwb wbbb wwwwwwb wb wwb”. This makes the baby feel warm, safe, and gooey.
Being Born and After
Without warning, the sounds around the baby change. The goo sack springs a leak. From somewhere upstairs, the regular placid whoosh of air coming and going is replaced by a choppy, staccato windstorm, accompanied by the sounds of the father saying, “Wbbb” and the mother loudly responding, “WWWB WWWWWWBB WWBBBBBB!” Downstairs, near the exit, the doctor begins saying to the mother, “Wbbb wbb, wwwwbbb”.
Suddenly, the walls start closing in, and the baby, any siblings, and all their posessions (mostly bits of goo — babies shun worldly possessions) are forced out the exit, into a loud bright room full of strange things, none of which are making soothing “Wbbb wwwwb” noises. Soon even the bits of goo are wiped away, and the baby is left in this loud, bright, cold, scratchy room, forced to breathe air, footprinted and tagged like a common criminal, and put on display so that strange creatures can make even stranger faces at them.
Eventually, the baby ends up in some other building, where he/she is kept in a padded cage, baby monitored 24/7, and prodded into performing tricks like rolling over and sitting up, all for the amusement of adults. For months, they will be fed nothing but warm milk, only to have that replaced by an assortment of sickly green and orange substances named after unrelated human foods (“peas”, “plums with tapioca”, “squash and carrots”, etc.)
You’d cry, too. (Disclaimer: You did.)
What to Do
I have no idea. The way to make an unhappy baby happy is to restore them to an environment where they were happy. However, this presents a problem. Usually, by the time a baby becomes unhappy enough to cry, its former place of residence will no longer be available, and nowadays it’s hard to find a goo sack large enough accomodate a kicking regimen, while still being affordable on a baby’s budget. Also, air is highly addictive, and once an infant gets hooked, it’s hard to go back to sharing oxygenated blood through a tube in your stomach.
So, much like a young person leaving his parents to make their own way in the world (kids, young people used to stop living with their parents — ask your parents), babies soon discover that you can’t go home. But you can still call, and hear the friendly voices of home. So the next time you hear a baby cry, pick them up and softly reassure them with these words: Wwwb wbbb wwwwwwb wb wwb. They’ll be glad you did.