Crying is a newborn's favorite activity. They cry whenever they feel hungry, unsafe, or uncomfortable. But sometimes I prefer to not respond to crying as quickly as possible, in order to teach my newborn to be patient for what he wants. Can I teach my newborn to be patient in this way?

Is there any physical/biological development happening when babies cry? Please share any good reference about this topic.

  • 11
    Teaching newborns patience? Do you also herd cats? ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 15:12
  • Not directly related, but of potential relevance: I asked this question on Skeptics.se regarding some common claims about response times and crying in older infants/toddlers.
    – user420
    Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 15:47

4 Answers 4


Newborns cry because they need attention. Rather than learning patience, research indicates that not responding to their cry increases their cortisol levels as well as placing a child at risk for poor emotional attachment with adults. There is also the risk that your child is in pain or sick and needs your prompt attention. Here is an article that further presents this information.

As a child grows, they develop different cries that parents can identify as fussy or attention seeking verses more serious demands for attention. Until that time, a caregiver needs to respond to a newborn's cry.


Newborns are really totally helpless and completely rely on their parents for all their needs. They usually only cry if they have some need to be satisfied (hunger, diaper, sleep, or even company). Don't let your newborn cry without reason. Newborns and infants cannot learn patience the way you seem to indicate, and letting them cry for too long might negatively affect their psyche.

This related question explains that there is a difference between mild "fussing" and all-out "crying". The general consensus is that mild fussing can be ignored, but if the baby is actually crying then it means that you as a parent should attend to the child.

Of course there are situations when you can't immediately attend to the child, e.g. while driving a car, or during a shower or bathroom visit. Don't panic in these situations, but simply take the soonest opportunity you can. On the other hand, don't deliberately delay your attention in an effort to teach the child some patience -- they are too young to learn that.

Please also see these other questions related to crying.


Newborns and infants, no. Crying at that age is nothing more than a response to unpleasant stimulus. When the child cries, something needs to be done ... food/change/blanket/etc.

That does not mean that the response must be frantic or panicked. A couple of minutes of crying, while (initially) tough to take, isn't going to cause any harm. When the cry for the 2am feeding wakes you up, it's OK to take a moment to put on your robe and slippers and wash your hands. Pay attention, you will quickly learn what the various different cries mean and will be able to respond accordingly. You will know when you need to rush.

We found with my daughter that talking to her once we heard the crying ("It's OK kiddo, Dad's coming") would sometimes blunt the intensity of the crying for a moment or two while the response comes. Even infants have good brains and will learn that your voice will be followed by fixing of the problem. It took a few weeks for the pattern to kick in. This was particularly true for the baby startled awake by a strange noise.

As an aside .. some friends have a small dog who took to sleeping in the baby's room, and would come wake them up a few minutes before the baby awoke for the night feeding.

  • That's the most interesting use of an "assistance" dog that I've ever heard.
    – Iterator
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 5:43

When you fail to respond to your crying newborn all they learn is that you are unreliable, not to be patient. Crying is not a pass time, the baby is not just crying to cry as others have mentioned. In addition to getting the physical needs that have prompted the crying met, the baby is learning to depend on you to meet their needs and respond appropriately. If repeatedly the baby is not responded to, the child learns you are not to be trusted to meet their basic needs. Although, it seems that all an infant does is cry, soon enough they will be able to express themselves more fully, in the interim, make sure you infant feels safe, loved, and cared for above all else.

  • Nervermind, I was commenting out to the wrong Q&A! Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 22:00

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