Research suggests that an infant’s crying during the night is in fact an evolution of their behavior to help prevent unwanted ‘competition’ being cooked up when a mother once again reaches maximum fertility.
It’s common for proud new parents to think their babies are up to no good when they’re woken up every night by crying – evidence shows they may well be onto something!
According to researchers, one of the primary reasons why babies cry during the nighttime is as a means of preventing his or her parents from conceiving another child. Shorter periods between the birth of siblings has been linked with early deaths, something that becomes even more severe in areas where resources are scarce and infectious disease more widespread, so reads the report from Harvard University.
As such, the team reached the conclusion that breast-fed babies have evolved in such a way that their causing of sleepless nights is an effective method of forced contraception, which in turn prevents any unwanted ‘competition’ showing up too early.
Following the birth of a child, breast feeding serves as something of a natural contraceptive for the first six months or so. Interestingly, the moment the mother once again reaches her most fertile is usually the exact moment babies become most likely to wake their parents at all hours of the night.
“Natural selection will have preserved suckling and sleeping behaviours of infants that suppress ovarian function in mothers, because infants have benefited from delay of the next birth,” said study leader Professor David Haigh.
“Maternal fatigue can be seen as an integral part of an infant’s strategy to extend the inter-birth interval,”
“More frequent and more intense nursing, especially at night, is associated with prolonged infertility.”