The Purposeful Parent: Crying, Cranky, and Clinging

crying baby

Imagine that you are sitting comfortably on your living room couch with the person you care most about in all the world sitting very close to you. You feel both emotionally and physically connected to this person. They help you feel comfortable, joyful, and safe.

While you are enjoying the peace that comes with just BEING together, a strange and new experience begins to develop around you.

Things, objects, spaces that were once static, start to shift and flow about. You can see if happening right before your eyes and this newness is the most terrifying thing you have ever experienced. Even the light and sound in the room start to fluctuate. It does not fit with everything you thought you knew about your beautiful and cozy existence.
You turn to your person to see if they are upset, but they remain very calm.
This helps you at first because you trust them completely.

But after a while, the strange movement starts to make you feel very uneasy and even agitated. You don’t know what to do so you resort to what you know best and what is guaranteed to get a response! You burst into tears; a scream bellows so loudly from within that it even startles you, and this makes you cry even louder!


Here’s how a typical discussion might go:

Parent 1: How was your day? What’s up with the little one; is she still fussy?
Parent 2: It was a rough one! She hasn’t stopped crying and fussing since
yesterday afternoon when we were sitting on the couch. I have no idea what
prompted it and nothing I do seems to calm her! She is so clingy! I can’t set her
down for a minute without her crying for me to pick her up.
Parent 1: Maybe she is getting her first tooth. Or maybe she needs more sleep!
Parent 2: I suppose, but it seems like it’s something else.
Parent 1: Well, we’ll just cuddle with her and hopefully this will help her fall asleep.


Yes, purposeful parent, she could be overtired. She could be teething, or she might be reacting to something she ate. The guessing game can make parenting extremely stressful. And a screaming baby, over time, can seem unbearable!

An unhappy baby can bring turmoil to the entire household

But what if you could limit the guesswork and actually be able to predict when a fussy phase was on the horizon?

What if you learned that there are 10 predictable learning leaps that take place in the first 20 months that could help you drastically reduce the amount of time you spend ‘guessing’ why the baby is so upset?

And, what if you could learn exactly what to do to help your child get through each stage with ease?

The scenario at the beginning of this article depicts what it is like for a baby at about 12 weeks when neurological development allows the baby to perceive flow in sight and sound for the first time. Prior to this, almost all physical objects and sounds remain constant. But now, at 12 weeks, they are suddenly cognizant of the cat’s tail swaying for the first time, the change in the tone of a voice, and the light fluctuating in a room throughout the day. It might seem as if you stepped into an entirely new world, and that would be scary!

This developmental stage is referred to as LEAP 3— The World Of Smooth Transitions, and you can learn all about it in the book, “The Wonder Weeks,” by Hetty vandeRijt, PhD., and Frans Plooij, Ph.D. It is the No. 1 Bestselling Infant Development Book and something every Purposeful Parent will want to keep handy.

The authors explain that the week of onset for each LEAP may vary slightly, but that EVERY baby goes through the ten stages from age zero to 20 months.

‘Wonder Leaps’ take place for every baby during
Weeks 5, 8 ,12, 15, 23, 34, 42, 51, 60, and 72

No kidding! And each leap is followed by new skill development that baby will eventually want to practice all by herself. But remember, right at the onset of each leap, a baby is going to demand more of your attention.

The authors refer to this as the time of the Three C’s: Crying, Crankiness, and Clinging.

But how comforting to know that it is temporary. Within a few days, the baby will calm down as she learns to assimilate and manage her new world. And, depending on the temperament of your child, it may take as little as one day for some to feel comfortable.

Every leap is closely related to the development of the baby’s nervous system altering perceptions within and outside of the baby. And although it can be scary, the tenderness and cuddling you provide in addition to other remedies will help your baby transition smoothly and successfully!

If you are expecting or have an infant in your home, I highly recommend you check out this book. In addition to providing the developmental research, it also helps you see the world through your baby’s perspective, teaches how to encourage each leap, provides ideas for activities and toys that are best for each leap, and provides tricks to help everyone in the home get thought the three Cs of crying, cranky and clinging!

As always, The Purposeful Parent provides a variety of workshops for parents and caretakers of children of all ages. Parenting with Heart Right from the Start is the workshop recommended for all new parents! Contact us on Facebook @thepurposefulparent.net to learn more!

All the best to our beautiful new parents and their babies,

The Purposeful Parent

About the author

Kate MartinKate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before Bed 

Visit my website: katemartinbestthoughts.com/purposeful-parent