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The Crying Game

March 28, 2010
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Fun Fact of the Week: A breastfeeding woman produces in one year three times her body weight in milk.

Babies cry a lot. A parent’s conciliation prize is the widely held notion that after a while they will be able to understand these cries. It is a secret promise of unique communication to compensate for the lack of common language – an insight into a baby’s mind despite their propensity to seemingly stare into empty space.

In case the parent is tone deaf, there is an iPhone application that, and I quote, “…within 10 seconds, the app translates the sound and identifies the emotion, and then gives parents a set of tips to calm the child.” The application can “identify one of five emotional states — hunger, fatigue, annoyance, stress or boredom.”

Furthermore, the company states, “There is a tremendous amount of research supporting that babies who are responded to consistently and appropriately will cry less and develop stronger social and cognitive skills.” Fairly general statement, but you better buy this application or your kid will be a social outcast for the rest of its life.

Well, I don’t own an iPhone. I can’t, however, tell from Alika’s different cries what she wants. They generally seem to oscillate between quiet whimpering as if she’s lost her car keys, to outright exhausting screaming as if she’s realised she just slept through Christmas.

I generally know why she’s crying through timing. We know her schedule well, such as when she wants to eat or sleep, and can smell when she needs changing.

Her body language gives much away. When she’s constipated and thus very annoyed – to put it mildly – she’ll raise her legs, spread them apart, turn red, scream for a few minutes, close her eyes, and then after a while, farts in quick sequence before falling back into restful and contented sleep.

This happens usually in supermarkets. While she screamed and turned different hues of red in the bread aisle, a gentle interfering old lady approached the pram and peered in.

“Oh, elle est mignonne. Mais je crois qu’elle a faim. Donnez-lui un peu de nourriture.”

“Non. Elle est constipé. Elle essaie de faire un caca gros.”

“Ah. Errrr…Ok. bonne journée.”

More important than crying and body language is recognising the different ways by which Alika sleeps.

She has a deep sleep, where she can be placed anywhere and loud music played without waking her. Another form of sleep is very light, she can’t be moved, and you know that when she wakes, she will stay awake for a while, and requires an intervention. Another form of sleep is in between the two. I know if she wakes from it, it will only be a while, and the worse thing to do is intervene, such as hold her, as it will wake her too much. Here she will scream a bit but then fall back to sleep quickly. She has other forms of sleep, but I won’t bore the reader more.

Of course you’ll never find a sleep application on an iPhone. Its just not sexy enough, requires a lot of observation and instinct, and anyway, a sales pitch that states knowing your kid’s sleep will stop it being a social outcast has a hollow ring to it compared to the promises made by the crying-recognition application.

Which leads me to the issues of sleep and babies. I thought that there was nothing more judgemental and subjective than the spurious arguments concerning the pro’s and con’s of breastfeeding. But that was before I delved into the on-line articles and forums concerning how babies should sleep.

But I shall leave that for another time because it’s a biggie, and I haven’t had enough coffee today to adequately mock some of the ideas I’ve read. I’ll keep that powder dry for a later day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Monette de Botton permalink
    March 28, 2010 12:29 pm

    I am just drinking this alllllll in 🙂

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