Did you know that babies can fake cry? I don't know about you, but this is news to me. A recent small study demonstrated that babies can fake cry -- just for the attention. This sounds like an extremely precocious form of naughtiness, but the researchers promise that when babies fake cry, they are not just trying to manipulate their parents. Well, they kind of are. But in a good way! Let me explain.
The researchers tracked babies' emotions just before they cried. The vast majority of the time, the babies displayed signs of emotional distress just before crying. But one baby smiled just before crying. The mother was playing with the 11-month-old, then turned away to do something else. The baby cried, and then stopped as soon as the mother's attention returned. Basically, crying was just a way to say, "Hey, I was having fun with you and I need your attention again!"
Researcher Hiroko Nakayama cautions parents not to ignore a baby they suspect is fake crying. Responding is very important to your baby's social and emotional development. "Infants who are capable of fake crying might communicate successfully with their caregivers in this way on a daily basis. Fake crying could add much to their relationships," Nakayama says.
Responding to fake crying -- that might sound insane to some parents. Just the other day I heard another mom talking about how if you pick up your baby every time she cries, you'll spoil her and she'll expect it every time. I think we still have a bit of a disagreement over how to respond to crying babies.
I prefer responding every time a baby cries. Maybe you can't pick up your baby every single time, but I think it's still important to at least acknowledge a baby's crying and respond with some attention and a few words so they know you hear them and will respond. It sounds like a baby who fake cries isn't necessarily manipulative; maybe she's just really smart.
Have you ever "caught" your baby fake crying?
Image via eyeliam/Flickr