Discharge Crying: Emotional Development of your Baby

Babies are incredible communicators, and crying is one of their primary means of expression. Discharge crying, or the release of emotions through tears, is a natural process that babies go through. While this behavior has been a topic of discussion for many years, there are both benefits and drawbacks associated with it.

Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Development

As a mother, I can attest to the fact that some babies have a greater need for discharge crying than others. My baby, for example, had a crying hour every night for months. It was all the stress from that day that needed to be released. At first, it was not easy, and I thought I was doing something wrong. I even started to think she was in pain. I tried to soothe her by breastfeeding, cuddling, or walking around. But eventually, we just learned to be present in the moment and let her know she was safe.

The Case of Discharge Crying

In 1985, a scientist named William Frey conducted a study to investigate the potential benefits of emotional tears. Frey’s research suggested that crying helped to remove toxins from the body and could even have a positive effect on mental health. However, over time, this study has been considered outdated, as our understanding of the stress system and emotional regulation has evolved.

Outdated Study and Modern Understanding

One of the reasons the study has been considered outdated is because our stress system does not function in the manner suggested by Frey. The role of cortisol, a hormone released during stressful events, has been studied extensively in recent years. Cortisol helps us cope with stressful events by regulating our body’s response, such as increasing our heart rate and blood pressure. This process helps us to better handle and adapt to our environment.

Tears: More Than Just Water

Tears play a vital role in the discharge crying process. They are composed of water, salts, and proteins, which have antimicrobial properties that help protect the eyes. Although the detoxification aspect of Frey’s study has been questioned, tears still serve important functions for both the eyes and emotional expression.

The Impact of Discharge Crying on Parents

Discharge crying can be emotionally taxing for parents, who may feel helpless and unsure of how to comfort their child. However, it is important for parents to understand that being present and providing a safe environment is crucial during these moments. That is how we help our children with co-regulation. When children feel safe, they are more likely to show their true emotions, allowing for emotional growth and bonding between parent and child.

The Importance of Presence and Emotional Safety

Being present for your child during discharge crying is essential. By offering physical comfort, verbal reassurances, and emotional support, parents can help their child navigate their emotions more effectively. Creating a safe and secure environment allows children to express themselves openly, fostering emotional resilience and healthy development.

Emotional Support and a Safe Environment Foster Emotional Resilience in Babies

While the benefits and drawbacks of discharge crying in babies continue to be debated, it is crucial for parents to understand the importance of being present and offering emotional support to their child. As our understanding of stress and emotional regulation has evolved, it has become increasingly clear that creating a safe environment for children to express their emotions is vital for their well-being. By being present and providing a safe space, parents can help their child develop emotional resilience and a strong foundation for future emotional growth.

I speak from personal experiences. For substantiated information, we always recommend that you take a look at the World Health Organization.

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Margaux Luyten


Adventure-loving mom blogger. Breastfeeding from December ’21. Sharing her insight on pregnancy and motherhood while embracing a healthy & active lifestyle. 

Margaux Luyten

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