A crying baby or toddler is often heartbreaking, sometimes exasperating, especially when you don’t always know what the baby is crying about and how to calm him or her down. Of course, it can be due to pain or hunger. But crying can also have a more psychological meaning.
- During the first three months. A baby cries often to express a state of discomfort (such as hunger, cold, or other discomfort) by attracting attention and asking for body contact. Little by little, the baby comes to associate the parent with “someone who meets his or her needs”, which plays an important role in the bond building process.
- From 3 to 6 months. Crying is not only an expression of dissatisfaction, but also a demand for attention and comfort. A baby who cries constantly and is rewarded with attention discovers predictability. This habit of being comforted leads him or her to a sense of security.
- From 6 to 9 months. The anxiety of separation is emerging. For example, the child will cry when the parent leaves his or her field of vision.
- About 9 months old. The fear of strangers becomes a reason to cry. Many babies this age also cry at night when they wake up and feel abandoned.
- From 9 to 12 months. The anxiety of separation grows stronger and is often accompanied by violent crying. The child has not yet learned that “leaving” is followed by “coming back”.
- From 1 to 2 years old. Babies begin to try to influence their environment. They discover that crying is a way of attracting the attention of those around them and of coercion to respond to their requests.
- From 2 to 3 years old. The child cries mainly to be reassured and thus feel safe with the parents (or other people). Toddlers also often cry out of frustration, anger, sadness or disappointment.
- From 3 years. Babies start to develop their imagination and in some ways, this can make them anxious. Children have “magical thoughts”: they believe that they can influence reality and that things will happen because they want to. If not, they may get angry or feel rejected. Crying is a way of imposing their desires, of asking for compassionate attention, but also of enforcing rules that reassure him.