Crying In Arms: TBSTP Perspective

First, it is essential that we understand that all crying is communication not manipulation. Our babies have no other means to communicate with us and as such, their cries need to be honoured, respected and responded to.  This article helps to set the scene if you are wondering about what is meant by crying as communication –


Now that this is understood, let’s talk about the Crying in Arms technique.

It’s all about context.

A baby will always be better off crying supported in loving arms than crying out of them.


Crying in arms can still be extremely distressing and traumatic for a baby when they are needing something more than to be simply held.

They may need to nurse.

They may need a different person.

They may need some other form of comfort.

In an effort to move beyond Sleep Training culture, it is essential to always ask ourselves WHY we are doing something.

What is our aim?

Is our aim realistic and fair?

Is it unavoidable or avoidable?

Necessary or unnecessary?

Something we want to do or something we NEED to do?

With this knowledge in mind, we can then think on our choice and its impact on our baby and family and weigh up the situation.

IF a change is unavoidably necessary and something we NEED to do, then the next port of call would be to work out the gentlest, most comforting way to achieve what must be achieved to limit and reduce the trauma and distress experienced by our baby.

This is the filter we ask all members to run by when considering or being forced to make a change to the way a baby finds sleep.

There is a very big difference in weaning a baby from nursing because that is what needs to happens versus weaning a baby in the hope of more sleep.

There is also a very big difference between a baby crying in the loving arms of an alternative carer when it is necessary for an alternative carer to help that baby find sleep to a baby crying in arms because it has been decided that separating that baby from their carer is going to break their link and make that baby find sleep away from them when they are clearly not ready for this to happen.

You may be thinking, how is it different?

Well in some ways they are very much the same-

In each scenario there is every chance there is going to be an extremely upset baby who is experiencing significant distress.


the key difference is that in scenario one, the distress is occurring in an unavoidable context. In the second, the distress is avoidable.

As a group, we won’t stand behind and cheer along any choice that causes significant distress that is avoidable. People may still decide that in their setting, it’s still a choice that is best for your family and you will always be entitled to make that call but that choice is not one we will advocate or support here.

The crying in Arms approach is not in line with the ethos of the group and this article from Evolutionary Parenting does a fabulous job at articulating the issues with this approach.

There will be times where no matter what we try, your baby will cry.

When nothing is working and you have cycled through all the things that normally work and cycled through again, then crying in loving arms is simply an important part of being there for your child while they are struggling.

I have held my inconsolable babies many times. No amount of boob, rocking, singing, boob, rocking, panadol and soothing has worked and so we simply cuddle. Sometimes, my husband has taken over to give me a breather and to break the scene up. This is an entirely different scenario to the Crying In Arms technique. It is simply what I/we needed to do to be there for our baby in that moment. We weren’t ‘training’ them and we were not encouraging ‘stress release’. We were just there for our baby when they couldn’t stop crying.

Crying fires our nerve endings up and sets our body on edge.

It makes zero sense from a physiological, anthropological or biological standpoint to consciously decide that at times, you shouldn’t try to soothe your child’s cries.

As your baby becomes a toddler and tears can be more clearly understood, it is very important that tears of anger and frustration and sadness are not ‘silenced’ and sometimes, ‘being there’ IS what is needed, but, soothing your child through their feelings helps them to down regulate and once again, if the child still continues to cry, that is okay. Our job isn’t to silence their cries but to be there for them while they cry.

This article elaborates on this further-

We ask members of this group to reflect on the motivations behind why they are utilising Crying In Arms.

The intent matters.

Babies don’t need to be encouraged to cry and they don’t need to be separated from soothing that would work in that moment.

They need to be respected, understood, loved and comforted.

Here’s further reading to explain this group’s stance-

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