There is nothing more distressing for a parent than hearing their sweet infant cry. Unfortunately, crying is a natural process and the only form of communication available to a baby. It is important to be patient with yourself as you get to know your baby. In the beginning, your newborn is a stranger and it takes time to learn his or her personality and cues.
Time and practice will help you feel confident in how to soothe your baby, yet after endless days and nights dealing with the ins and outs, even mom and dad can be at a loss for what to do. When in this situation, it is possible to take an analytical approach to figure out your baby’s needs.
Top reasons babies cry
The first step to calming a crying baby is to go from head to toe looking for physical problems the baby may have.
- Is your baby too hot or cold? Perhaps she is dressed in too many layers. Take their temperature under the armpit if you are unsure. Normal infant temperatures ranges from 97 to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no need to take an infant’s temperature rectally. The axillary temperature gives an appropriate indication of the infants true temperature and therefore there is no need to subject a baby to the additional stress and the invasive hazards of rectal temperatures. (source)
- Is baby hungry? Newborn babies will drink breastmilk or formula every 1-3 hours. As babies grow they can sustain longer periods without eating however, every child is different in how often they like to eat. General guidelines for infant feeding schedule found here.
- Is baby eating too much? Feel your baby’s tummy in the upper left corner. If it is buldging out and baby is continuously spitting up, it may be a sign of overfeeding. We do not feel good after overeating during thanksgiving, and babies can experience over fullness as well. Although it is very rare to overfeed an infant, it can happen. Perhaps your baby is eating too fast and swallowing air. Try to pace baby by pulling her off the breast or removing the bottle. Burp baby by gently tapping and rubbing her back.
- Could baby be having pain from reflux? This is quite common due to the immaturity in the development from the sphincter where the esophagus meets the stomach. Signs of reflux include: arching, spitting up, hiccups, refusing to eat, and irritability while feeding or shortly thereafter. Hold baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding to aid in the forward movement of digestion. Natrum Phosphoricum 6x is a safe and effective homeopathic remedy that neutralizes stomach acids and aides in digestion. It can be given 3 times a day and continued until symptoms resolve.
- Does baby have gas pain? Babies can develop gas for many reasons including drinking too fast, swallowing air bubbles from mixed formula, or extended crying. Breastfed infants can develop gas when mom eats certain foods in her diet such as cabbage, beans, or dairy. Help baby relieve the gas by gently massaging the belly in a circular motion. Place baby tummy down on your chest and rub his back. If this does not help you can lay your baby on his back and slowly bicycle the legs. There are also some safe, natural remedies for gas such as gripe water.
- Does baby have a dirty diaper? Some infants are not bothered by dirty diapers, however it is imperative to keep your little one clean and dry so they will not develop diaper rash. If your infant is having frequent stools, causing irritation to the skin, probiotics can be supplemented to help control diarrhea.
- Teething could be the culprit. Infants start teething at various times but as early as 4 months for some. You will notice an increase in drooling or bringing objects to the mouth to bite on. Massage baby’s gums with clean hands during teething. Placing wash cloths in the freezer for later use can be a great option for baby to chew on. There are also many homeopathic remedy treatments for teething. Essential oils can be used topically for teething. I advise parents to stay away from the use of Tylenol or Motrin. There are many terrible health implications associated with these drugs. Please read about the dangers of Tylenol for pregnant women and children before choosing this option. There are natural ways to provide pain relief.
Once you are assured that baby’s crying is not due to a physical need, it is necessary to consider your child’s emotional requisites.
- Overstimulation could be a cause for fussiness. Babies may be in sensory overload if they have been exposed to a new environment, passed around by many people, hear continuous loud noises, or if they are kept awake for extended periods. Decrease the stimulation by eliminating talking and taking baby to a quiet darkened room. Do not rub or stroke baby, but hold her in a relaxed steady manner. If your baby becomes calm, you may lay her in a safe place to sleep. It is important to protect children against too much stimulation including the television, which contains rapid moving objects and changing lights.
- Understimulation is also a reason for fussiness. Just like adults, children get cabin fever. Moms are tired and it is tempting to stay around the house all day, but changing the scenery will help stimulate new neuron connections in your baby’s brain. Going for a short walk is a great way to provide a low-key enriching experience for yourself and your baby. Home delivery from Amazon is convenient, but there are many shapes and colors for your baby to observe at the store. This may be a great option to give baby a new visual experience.
- Babies need physical touch. Without it, your child could experience cognitive development delays. Skin to skin contact is extremely beneficial for infants, especially during the early newborn phases. Increase physical contact with your baby while still being able to use your hands freely by using an infant wrap. The bouncing motions you create accomplishing your daily tasks while baby-wearing will soothe your infant.
- Your baby is feeding off your behavior. If you are in a chronic state of stress, the atmosphere will exemplify that. Stress hormones can be passed through breastmilk. (source) Take a moment to evaluate the things that are adding to the stress in your life and make changes to minimize them.
Techniques to comfort baby
- Swaddle baby tightly
- Make shushing noises or turn on white background noise
- Place baby in a swing
- Bouncing motions
- Place baby belly down and gently pat his butt
- Administer the homeopathic remedy Chamomilla for inconsolable babies
- Nursing for comfort
- Get baby outside for fresh air
- Put baby down for a nap
Dealing with Colic
Colic is defined as excessive and intense periods of crying in an otherwise healthy infant. There does not seem to be a clear underlying reason for this and no amount of comforting helps. Colic can develop early but may peak from 6 weeks to 4 months of age.
It is important to remember when dealing with colic that even though you may not be able to quiet your baby from crying, your efforts are still comforting and providing positive feedback.
1 in 5 infants may develop colic. It is best not to face this situation alone. Hearing your baby cry can be very distressing and you NEED to take a break. There will not be lasting psychological effects from colic, which is why it is important that you as a parent do what you can to keep your sanity. NEVER SHAKE A BABY.
You may not be in a situation where help is easily available. As a military spouse I know this first hand. When I cannot console my son, I simply place him safely in his crib, go to a place that I can’t hear him to take some deep breaths. It helps me to read forums where other mothers have told similar stories. This provides a sense of community and a knowing that it will not always be like this.
Please feel free to leave a comment about your experiences dealing with crying babies. The more we help each other in this regard the easier it will be to navigate through a difficult time of our lives.
The Cheeky Mommy
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