Some parents think they need to let babies cry it out. Why? Because they have heard that babies need to learn to comfort themselves and fall asleep on their own. There is a point when young children do need to learn how to fall asleep on their own, but the first six months of their lives is way too soon to expect them to do that.
There is something that new babies need to learn that is much more important than how to get themselves to sleep. It is something that will shape their personalities as they grow up all the way into adulthood. They need to learn to trust. Trust that this world they have dropped into is a safe, OK place to be. Trust that there are people around them who will help them when they need something.
When new babies cry, they are telling you something. When you answer them over and over again, they learn that they can depend on you. They can trust you. That trust is the beginning of their being able to form close, trusting relationships with others as they grow up.
This does not mean that babies should never be allowed to cry. It is OK to wait a minute or two to see if the baby is really calling you before you respond. With the use of baby monitors today, adults sometimes think baby sounds (moving in the crib, gurgles, etc.) are crying sounds or about-to-be-crying sounds, and they respond too quickly, not allowing the baby to get fully awake and actually call out for help. If adults wait to make sure babies are actually crying it helps them connect “I called out” with “you came to help me.” Putting these two things together is how babies learn to trust.