Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Montessori Way to Soothe a Crying Baby

NAMC montessori way to soothe a crying baby

New parents are often at a loss when, after they bring the baby home, it starts to cry. Do you let the baby cry or pick it up every time? Advice from well-intentioned relatives and friends seems to be conflicting. Even in infancy, Dr. Maria Montessori advised us to "follow the child". In this case, it is important to spend time with your baby, learning what he is saying with each cry.

Parents often think that babies cry because they are hungry or in pain. There are many reasons for babies to cry, however. They might be worried, scared, hot, cold, lonely, bored, or even having bad memories or dreams. It may take some time to learn to differentiate the cries, but here are a few guidelines.

  • First, speak gently and soothingly to the baby, reassuring him that you are present. (Often this is all that is required to soothe him).
  • If this doesn’t work, try making eye contact or lightly laying a hand on him.
  • If the above two don’t work, then check for physical discomfort: a wet diaper, wrinkled bedding, the need to be in a different position.

Using Montessori Methodology to Soothe A Crying Baby

In The Joyful Child, Michael Olaf states that very rarely does a crying infant require food. In fact, he wonders if we tried harder to comfort our babies with means other than food or pacifiers, if we would raise children who are more in tune with their needs, thus alleviating the obesity problems we face today. It is the attentive parent (and Montessori teacher) who understands that crying is communication and is part of the work of infancy. It is our job to attend to their cries and learn what they mean so that we might better understand.

This is just one of the issues covered in NAMC's Infant/Toddler Montessori curriculum manuals, which can be purchased individually or in full sets. These manuals are also part of our seven month Montessori Teacher Training diploma program.

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, June 6, 2007.


  1. It is also important to observe the child for possible patterns and types of crying to make it easier to assess and identify the reason the infant is crying - Research by Lester & Zeskind 1982 tells us that:

    "The pain cry is a short, loudly piercing wail, high pitched, with a short apnea, a pause of silence during which the child is not breathing. The hunger cry is often in short, continuous bursts that is rather insistent. It typically has a medium pitch. Colic is noted for its persistence in spite of multiple soothing strategies. The infant who is uncomfortable expresses her discomfort with intermittent cries, not prolonged nor particularly irritating to the listener, yet provocative to the responsive caregiver who seeks to comfort. Boredom is expressed by whimpers in bursts – the infant is calling for action, stimulus, and intervention."

    This may be true for some infants but may not work for all, so observing the infants is key in a montessori environment and at home.

  2. Thank you for the additional information, sadaf Alam.

  3. remind me to give attend of infant cry, not pacifier or food all the time. I have 6 months old boy, it's give me information a lot .


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