Understanding the “Mantra Cry”

Learning When It’s Ok To Let Your Baby Cry (The “Mantra Cry”)

The Mantra Cry-ok for baby to cryWhile learning your baby’s cues and cries, and teaching your baby to self-soothe, your little one will have a cry that is not calling for you to come to the rescue. Learn to recognize when it’s ok to let your baby cry.

The Difference Between a Mantra Cry and a Serious Cry For Help

Although we are against letting your baby Cry It Out, it is important for a parent to realize that there is a difference in cries, and some are ok to leave be. For the first three or four months many of your baby’s cries are genuine cries for help. Newborns are very needy! But, by the time they reach this 3-4 month mark, you will hopefully be able to recognize when his cry seems to sound different than the serious cry for help. What Tracy Hogg refers to as the “mantra cry” is a burst of cry that a baby will do as he is settling down (and going to sleep). It is valuable to recognize this cry, because this is where a baby really learns to self-soothe. If you rush in to your baby every time she makes a peep, it will be hard for her to learn to soothe and fall asleep on her own. Don’t worry that you are letting you baby Cry It Out, because Crying It Out is when you ignore your baby’s cry for help. To learn more about alternatives to the Cry It Out method, read our other article.

Learning to Recognize the Mantra Cry

Every baby has his own unique mantra cry so listen carefully to learn to make the distinction. Typically, a mantra cry’s pitch and tone stay the same, while a genuine cry will escalate in tone. A baby that is crying because she has a need gets more distressed as time goes on and you can hear that in her cry. A baby that is crying because she is trying to settle does not escalate, get louder or sound distressed. These cries do not sound the same.

It will take some careful listening (and reading of your baby’s body language) to learn his cues. When you hear you baby start to cry, it is okay to stop and listen before you rush in to him. In fact, you should! You are not being a bad parent by letting him cry for a minute while you listen for differences in sounds. It is the best way for you to really learn what your baby is telling you. Letting your baby cry becomes an issue is when you ignore the cry for help and let your baby continue to cry even after you have had a chance to recognize/analyze it.

The Mantra Cry In the Middle of the Night

The “mantra cry” will also be heard at times when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night. When your baby wakes up between sleep cycles and just needs to fall back to sleep, she may do her “mantra cry” to go back to dreamland on her own. If your baby wakes at a time when you know it is not time to eat, hesitate for a minute before you go in to her room and listen to her cry. Be sure that it is a serious cry in need so you don’t disturb your baby’s attempt at self-soothing before you go in. As your baby gets older, her ability to self-soothe should improve and be easier to notice.

It will take time for your baby to learn to self-soothe. You might have to go in to his room to reassure him hundreds of times before he is ready to put himself to sleep. Every baby is different. Don’t get stressed if your baby needs more help than your friend or your sister’s baby. Just listen to your baby and learn what he is telling you. Being able to recognize what his cries and other cues mean feels great!

Recommended Reading

To read more about learning to read your baby’s cries, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

Establishing A Routine

Establishing a Routine for Your BabyEstablishing A Routine For Your Baby

Some people cringe at the thought of establishing a routine for a newborn, thinking that it is not a reasonable thing for an infant to follow. This may be true for schedules, where you fit your baby to a clock, but not a routine. Babies, live adults, thrive on a routine and it helps parents in many, many ways. The important thing to remember with your routine is that is has to remain FLEXIBLE.  Setting up a rigid schedule that your baby must follow to the minute is not acceptable or fair to your baby (and will make your life more miserable).

The easiest routine we have found to follow is Tracy Hogg’s EASY routine. EASY is an acronym for a predictable sequence of events the pretty much mirrors adult lives. Eat, have some Activity, go to Sleep, then have time for You. This is a routine (not a schedule) that keeps the day structured and predictable, helps parents learn their babies ways of communicating, and prevents the forming of some bad habits (like feeding your baby to sleep). We suggest starting on this routine from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. The routine is only a daytime routine. During the night, there should be no activity period (not even a diaper change unless you know the diaper has poop in it or the diaper is leaking). At night, if your baby wakes from hunger, feed him them put him right back to sleep.

Newborn to four month old babies should be on a three hour routine (eating every three hours) and at four months babies are ready to move to a four hour routine (this is assuming a baby was not premature, is of average healthy weight and has no health problems). Establishing a routine is easier the younger the baby, so start right away and your baby will naturally and easily move from the three to four hour routine-probably even on her own.

A Routine That Works for Parents AND Baby

Tracy Hogg’s years of experience implementing the EASY routine with families, resulted in babies’ lives that were predictable and calm, which led them to be “good eaters, they learned to play independently for increasingly longer periods and they could get themelves to sleep without sucking on a bottle or breast or being rocked by their parents. As many of these babies grew into toddlers and preschoolers, they were also confident in themselves and trusted that their parents would be there if they needed them. The parents themselves learned early on to tune in to their child’s cues by carefully observing their body language and listening to their cries. Because they could “read” their child, they felt better equipped to deal with any bumps in the road.”

“With EASY, you don’t follow the baby, you take charge. You observe him carefully, tune in to his cues, but you take the lead, gently encouraging him to follow what you know will make him thrive: eating, appropriate levels of activity, and a good sleep afterward. You are your baby’s guide. You set the pace. EASY gives parents, especially first-timers, the confidence to know that they understand their baby, because they more quickly learn to distinguish their baby’s cries.”

Write It Down to Help Stick To The Routine

The most important thing you can do to keep on your routine, especially in the beginning or during periods of change, is to write everything down. Write down what time your baby eats, how long of on activity period you had, what time she went to sleep and when she woke up. This helps you remember what times things occurred (because your lack-of-sleep brain isn’t as good at remembering on its own) and helps you recognize patterns (good and bad). Writing it all down gives you the perspective of an entire day (or week).

Some of the things you might want to write down or log would be:

Eat-Time, How much (if bottle)/how long (if breast), Right or Left breast

Activity-What, How long

Sleep-How long

You-What you did for yourself (taking naps when your baby is napping is the best way to spend your “You” time in the beginning)

The Most Important Thing To Remember

It is so important to remember that this is a flexible, structured routine, NOT a schedule. Your baby will likely vary a little from day to day on when she is hungry or tired (usually only by 15-30 minutes) and that is ok. If your baby is hungry, feed her, even if it is before the “time” on your routine. When your baby starts showing signs of getting tired, put her to bed. Instead of focusing on the clock, focus on your baby. Look for signs of hunger, sleepiness and overstimulation. “The better you get at interpreting your baby’s cries and body language, the better you’ll be at guiding him and at clearing whatever obstacles get in the way.”

A Typical EASY Day for a 4 Week Old (as outlined in Tracy’s book)

E-7:00 am Feed

A-7:45 Diaper change, some playing and talking; watch cues for sleepiness

S-8:15 Swaddle and lay your baby in the crib. It may take him 15-20 minutes to fall asleep for his 1st morning nap.

Y-8:30 You nap when he naps

E-10:00 Feed

A-10:45 See 7:45 above

S-11:15 2nd morning nap

Y-11:30 Nap/relax

E-1:00 Feed

A-1:45 See 7:45 above

S-2:15 Afternoon nap

Y-11:30 Nap/relax

E-4:00 Feed

A-4:45 See 7:45 above

S-5:15 Catnap for 40-50 minutes to give him enough rest to handle his bath.

Y-5:30 Do something nice for yourself.

E-6:00 1st Cluster feed

A-7:00 Bath, into jammies, lullaby or other bedtime ritual

S-7:30 Another catnap

Y-7:30 You eat dinner

E-8:00 2nd cluster feed

A-None

S-Put him straight back to bed

Y-Enjoy your short evening

E-10-11 Dream feed and cross your fingers ’til morning!

“NOTE: Whether a baby is breast or bottle fed, I advise the above routine–allowing for variations in times–until 4 months old. The “A” time will be shorter for younger babies, and get progressively longer for older ones. I also recommend turning the two “cluster feeds” into one (at around 5:30 or ) by 8 weeks. Continue to dream feed until 7 months–unless he’s a great sleeper and makes it through on his own.”

From Our Experience

As activity time gets longer and more involved, it is necessary to have an adequate wind-down ritual to prepare your baby for sleep. It is not easy for her to go right from playing to sleeping. She has to have time to settle down and get in sleep mode. Be sure to do the same things every time before bed (swaddle, read books, sing a lullaby, sit in the chair, etc). If your baby is extra fussy when you try to put her to sleep, you might need to spend a few more minutes in your wind-down. And, enjoy this time! The time to cuddle and snuggle your baby is irreplaceable!

To read all about Tracy Hogg’s Sleep Methods and to hear many case studies, check out her incredible books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Recommended Reading

To read more about the EASY Routine, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems