How to Keep Yourself From Crying When Your Baby Won’t Stop
There are few things that cause more distress to new parents than their baby’s cry. While you may have envisioned your sweet newborn immediately stopping once picked up and cuddled, it doesn’t take long to realize this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Whether your baby wails all day, all night or every time in between, there are things you can do to reduce and even stop the crying. Here is your guide to surviving your baby’s crying.
Understand What’s Normal
First, it’s good to establish whether your baby’s crying is normal. There are underlying causes that can mean serious problems like allergies and illnesses, but these are rare. MedlinePlus.gov states that normal crying is considered one to three hours per day. It may seem like your child is crying all day, but try timing each crying session and see if it adds up to less than three hours. If excessive crying doesn’t go away after one day or your child has other concerning symptoms, it’s best to visit a doctor. Once you have established that your baby’s crying is normal, you can move on to figuring out ways to reduce it.
Understand Why They Cry
One statement that new parents often make is, “I just don’t know what’s wrong.” Know that you are completely normal if you feel this way. Even if you’ve had other children before, this is a whole new person with different needs, desires and discomforts. Trust that, over time, you’ll get to know your baby and learn what he or she wants. HelpGuide.org states that most babies build up to a peak crying point at about six weeks and taper off from there. This can be in large part because babies are becoming more accustomed to their world, but also because parents can understand their babies better after spending a month and a half with them. Here are some of the main reasons babies cry and what you can do about it.
Wants to Be Held
Most parent’s immediate response to a cry is to pick up the baby. Often times, this is the right answer. The unique smell of a parent and feel of skin can bring relief to a baby. Sometimes, the opposite may be true. My second son wanted to be held every second of the day, even when he was asleep. When my third son came along, I quickly realized that he was fiercely independent and hated being held. When he began to fuss, I’d tell people to lay him on the floor and they would look at me in shock, but he would immediately relax once he was put down. Babies are not cookie-cutter copies, they each have their own personalities. Your job as a parent is to get to know the baby you’ve been given.
Needs to Sleep
Many parenting experts will tell you that the number one reason babies cry is that they are overtired. Most new parents don’t realize how much sleep babies really need. This handy baby sleep chart details the amount of sleep a child needs by age. As a newborn and up until four months, your child should be sleeping between 16 to 18 hours every day. This can be split into three to five naps during the daytime and seven to nine hours at night. This means that your baby should only be awake for between six and eight hours per day. Many parents are shocked to hear this, but a well-rested baby is a happy baby.
One way to ensure that your little one gets adequate sleep is by setting up a schedule. You may scoff at the idea, but it’s one of the most proven ways to have a peaceful parent and child. Here are some sample schedules you can try. Each baby’s needs will be different, but by learning tired cues and what your baby needs, you’ll be able to set up the routine that works for both of you.
Wants to Eat
Many parents immediately feed baby when they hear a cry, but sometimes it can be hard to miss a hungry cue. You may have just fed him or her, but if a growth spurt is occurring, you might need to offer more food. This can apply to both formula-feeding moms and nursing mothers since each comes with their own difficulties. Try burping first and if that doesn’t calm baby down, offer a bit more food.
Has to Burp
Have you ever eaten laying down and gotten severe gas pains? It’s not fun, believe me. Babies feel the same way. Sometimes they just can’t get that burp out and, unlike adults, don’t know how to make themselves do it. Experts recommend gently patting or rubbing your baby’s back while he or she is in a sitting up position. Slowly moving them from side to side can also allow the gas to release.
Is Feeling Uncomfortable
Your baby has gone from swimming in warm, sweet water for nine months to being too hot, too cold, in pain and downright miserable sometimes. The worst part is there is nothing these babies can do about it except cry. If your baby is not feeling hungry, tired or any other of the previously mentioned emotions, investigate other causes. There could be a hair wrapped tightly around a toe, a shirt tag that’s scratchy, a dirty diaper or a painful rash. Your baby may also be too hot or cold, so try adding or taking away layers.
Needs an “S”
Sometimes your baby is overstimulated or anxious, in which case the five S’s can come into play. Dr. Harvey Karp, parenting expert, says babies can struggle from either too much sound or a lack of the noises they were used to in the womb. He recommends the following:
- Side-stomach position
These moves mimic the womb and help the baby feel at peace.
One major point for new parents to realize is that crying is normal and doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. It’s okay to take a break and leave your baby with a trusted friend. Recognize when you reach your breaking point and call in reinforcements. Eventually you’ll be able to laugh and commiserate with other parents about this time and (maybe) even consider trying for another one.