Don’t Let Baby Tears Tear You Apart

25 July 2013

‘Don’t let tears tear you apart’ say relationship experts with launch of new advice for parents when baby won’t stop crying

In the midst of royal baby fever, relationships charity OnePlusOne has today published ‘real world’ advice for all new parents to help prevent the constant crying of a young baby from straining relationships to breaking point.

The new advice is being issued as a result of OnePlusOne/ICM research, which found that two-fifths (42%) of parents who are no longer with the parent of their first child separated during pregnancy or before the child reached three-years-old[1]. The research also revealed that new parents cite ‘lack of sleep’ as having the biggest negative effect on their relationship since having a baby[2].

In the first section of the guide – Don’t let baby tears tear you apart  – OnePlusOne takes a look at why we are hard-wired to respond to the sound of a crying baby in the way that we do (did you know our ears are tuned to be most sensitive to 3,000 hertz – the exact frequency of a baby’s wail!?!).  The guide also offers practical advice for parents on how best to cope.

Chartered Psychologist and Spokesperson for the British Psychological Society, Dr Simon Moore, said:

“The problem is that it’s very hard to switch off from the sound of a crying baby – especially when it is your own. The science shows that we are programmed to respond to the sound of baby crying as part of our evolutionary wiring.  Added to that, sleep deprivation caused by a crying baby can exacerbate the stress levels the parents are already feeling. It is a particularly stressful experience for parents and can cause tempers to fray and place considerable strain on relationships.”

Penny Mansfield, Director of OnePlusOne, said:

“All babies cry.  It’s something thousands of new parents up and down the country will be dealing with every day – even if they’re royalty.  What we’ve found is that there is loads of advice out there for parents about how to soothe a crying baby, but there is very little for parents on how best to look after themselves and their relationship.“

Top tips from OnePlusOne to help parents to hold it together when the baby won’t stop crying include:

  • Keep communication channels with each other open and share how you’re feeling
  • Remember that you are learning the ropes together – stay calm with each other as you both work out what works best for your family
  • Work together as a team to soothe the baby – this might including “tag-teaming” or taking it in turns

The report also contains tips from parents around the country including:


“Continuous crying meant we both ended up sleep deprived which was incredibly hard to cope with. We were both up in the night and we didn’t know what to do for the best. We both got over tired and angry and used to say (and shout) horrible things to each other in the middle of the night. We had an agreement to disregard anything we said to each other between the hours of 11pm and 7am because we were just pushing each other to breaking point.”


“My two-month old often calms down if we take her out. The crying never sounds as deafening when mixed in with outdoor noise either, and the motion/ change of scenery often calms her down anyhow. I find it relaxing too and it gives my partner some peace too. I think you need to take it in turns to give each other a break.”


“We found music was a good way of getting our son to calm down. We used to stick on Mumford & sons really loud and he would chill. If you find an album that works for them and that you both like as well you can enjoy listening to it together once the baby has calmed down.”

Penny Mansfield also commented:

“With the cost of family breakdown totaling around £46bn every year – and that’s before you factor in the emotional cost to the family and particularly children – the need for more help for new parents to keep their relationship away from the rocks is clear.”


For more information or to arrange an interview with Penny Mansfield, please contact 020 7553 9530 or or Ana Granger at Claremont on 07789 069 591 or .

Notes to editors

  • OnePlusOne is a UK charity, which aims to strengthen relationships; helping couples and parents through a range of online resources including the Couple Connection and the Parent Connection. It provides online training for frontline family workers to equip them with the skills to offer timely relationship support in a face-to-face setting.  Based on latest research evidence, it promotes early action to equip couples to deal with relationship issues before they become entrenched.
  • ICM surveyed 1,403 parents, including 512 new parents who have one child under the age of three. The research was carried out between April 19th and 24th 2013. ICM also hosted an online community followed and focus groups to gather qualitative data referred to in the report.
  • OnePlusOne was recently commissioned by the Department for Education to lead a high-profile campaign to encourage couples to see seeking support as normal in strengthening their relationship. The charity will be working with expert partners, including Working Families, Contact a Family,, Netmums, Student Room and YouthNet, to create online spaces where couples can find tools to help themselves.
  • The Relationships Foundation, a think-tank on relationships and society, calculated the cost of family breakdown as £46bn in March 2013. For more information visit their website
  • For more information, visit our websites, or


[1] ICM surveyed 1,403 parents, including 512 new parents who have one child under the age of three. The research was carried out between April 19th and 24th 2013. The survey showed that nearly a quarter (23%) of parents are no longer with the partner they had their first child with and of those parents who had split up, two-fifths (42%) parted company either during pregnancy or before the child reached three-years-old. The full findings are published in Sleep, Sex and Sacrifice: the transition to parenthood a testing time for relationships

[2] More than one fifth (23%) of new parents felt a lack of sleep since having a baby had the biggest negative effect on their relationship – this is higher than any other single factor


You can download the press release here

Download the report in PDF format here.