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