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Men Can't Hear a Crying Baby

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New research explains why guys sleep through the sound of their babies' screams.

baby crying man sleeping

It's 2:00 a.m. Your baby's crying. And your husband's sleeping like a log. Sound frustrating and familiar? Hey, don't unleash your fury: Turns out, sleeping men really can't hear the cry of a baby.

According to a new study conducted by marketing-research company Mindlab International, men are deaf to a baby's cries while they're sleeping -- but a screaming infant will jolt a woman right out of dreamland. (Men, meanwhile, are more likely to be jerked awake by blaring car alarms, buzzing flies or the sound of wind rattling their windows.) The researchers also found that while women need much more time to fall back asleep after being awakened, men tend to be out cold once they hit the sheets.

Chalk it up to a woman's innate maternal instinct, which the researchers say kicks in at the first sound of a baby in distress. It all goes back to evolution: Back in the day, men had to be ready to fight saber-toothed tigers at the drop of a hat -- so their autonomic nervous systems (which control breathing and heart rate) still respond more quickly to sounds of potential danger than to the sound of a baby crying.

So the next time your baby is screaming in the dead of night, cut your (snoring) guy some slack -- then put him on diaper duty in the morning.


next: It's About Size: Why Teens Prefer TV to Movies
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Vita David February 18, 2010, 10:48 AM

Give me a break!!!!! Most husbands I am not saying all…just lay there and pretend they don’t hear because they know well enough Mommy is getting up with the baby..trust me I am a mother of three and know this for a fact!!!

Anonymous February 18, 2010, 10:59 AM

i agree with vita. when my husband and i first got together anytime his sin would so much as wimper his butt would be half way to my now stepson’s room with in seconds. it took about 3 months of us living together before he was unwakable when my stepson woke up.

tennmom February 18, 2010, 11:18 AM

My late-husband(father of my daughters)would only wake if he was in the next room from our girls. The crying from the monitor I kept on me constantly didn’t wake him.
The night-time care was my job, according to him, even on weekend nights.
My current husband (ex-military)is able to sleep through a loud t.v., our daughters (12 & 10) playing Wii or generally acting like tweens. On the other hand we will wake in a second if he hears one of them so much as sneeze upstairs. He can doze away as I chat on the phone but if I so much as whisper his name, he wakes up.
I’m seriously suspecting that men are the victims of “selective hearing”. :)

Bill  February 18, 2010, 11:29 AM

At last, vindication!

Wendi February 18, 2010, 11:47 AM

My hubby use to wake up at first, but since I didn’t let him get up with the baby he started to not hear him. Every now and then he will wake but not usually. Honestly its not a big deal, I love comforting my little guy and since I am a stay at home mom, how fair is it that my hubby has to be up in the middle of the night when he has work and school (both full time) the next day.

Shannon February 18, 2010, 1:57 PM

I call BULLSHIT! My husband still can’t hear when our son wakes up (he still shares a room with us) & he is 18 months old!!!

Anonymous February 18, 2010, 2:45 PM

Whatever happens between 11pm and 6am is DH’s job. I sleep though everything, yes, even a police action at the apartment building next door. Waking me up is a waste of time. I’m utterly useless when 1/2 asleep.

friend February 18, 2010, 3:39 PM

sounds like a poll more than a research. besides, not all men respond to distress or danger. the over-generalization would be saying that all men are good hunters and warriors, which is very untrue and biased. so stating that men have a scientific reason for him being unresponsive to his offspring’s cry of distress is unfounded.

Kmuzu February 18, 2010, 3:48 PM

Shut up about the pretending to be asleep through the baby crying. It’s the only thing we men got left.

arjan February 18, 2010, 3:51 PM

I will only sometimes hear my baby crying and sometimes I pretend not to hear him because I get away with it. I have other duties which women will never do and besides: The wife wants to take care of the baby…

On the other hand I’ll sit straight-up in a split-second from the soudn of a falling pencil downstairs.

So far the research is right about me.

Anonymous February 19, 2010, 9:46 AM

Let’s put it this way, my husband knows that if the kid crys he better get up, cuz I’m not doing it

j February 20, 2010, 7:34 AM

If you called bullshit, you didn’t click the “study” link. The research involved measuring the brain activity of sleepers as they were exposed to different noises.
Way to react emotionally rather than logically.
And I’ll go change the baby if you go see what that noise was in the garage.

bryony1 February 23, 2010, 12:17 AM

Men hear babies just as women do, but they don’t do anything about it. Some “research.”

Alex February 24, 2010, 2:16 PM

Kidding I hear the baby all night long and it isn’t even my baby. I even get up and check on the baby before I wake the mom.

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