Having a baby
It’s quite normal for moms to feel concerned about the safety and well being of their children. So hearing their baby cry, can be quite a worry especially for new moms.
I remember when I had my 1st child and how anxious I was every time he cried. Thankfully with a lot more experience and 3 children later, I can certainly say I’m a lot less anxious when my children cry.
Babies are fully dependent on their parents for their food, their comfort, warmth & care. Because they can’t express themselves yet at such a tender age, crying is how they communicate these needs.
As they grow, they’ll find other ways to communicate. For example, laughing, eye contact, making sounds, smiling and so on.
What most parents have to realise is that crying, though uncomfortable is not harmful in infants.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why babies cry and how to soothe them.
Crying because they are hungry
Hunger is one of the most common reasons why babies cry – especially newborn. Babies have small stomachs which don’t hold much. Hence why they have to eat often.
For breastfeeding moms, offer your baby the breast to settle them even if the last feed wasn’t so long ago. This is known as responsive feeding. Your baby will let you know when they’ve had enough by coming off the breast. Your baby will also be more content and settled.
Formula-fed babies tend to feed every two hours, even though most babies are different. Some babies may prefer to feed often and in small amounts. So offer the bottle & this might just help to calm the baby down.
Crying because they are colicky
Some babies cry more than others and this just depends on the baby & not your parenting. If after picking up a crying baby, and the crying stops, then you have nothing to worry about.
However, in some cases, the baby may be inconsolable and you may want to have your baby checked out as the baby may have colic.
Babies who have colic tend to become frustrated & flustered. They may also resist every attempt you make to soothe them. Other signs to look for in a baby with colic are:
Baby arching their backs, clenching their fists and drawing up their knees. While many parents worry about these signs in baby, many experts say these are all part of their development.
Others, however, associate it with problems in the stomach, milk allergy or something in the breast milk. Also, colic is linked to constipation, reflux and wind.
The term colic is used to describe a healthy & well-fed baby who cries for up to 3 hours a day, for 3 or more days a week for 3+ months. It’s important to take your baby to see a doctor with excessive crying.
The doctor will be able to determine if they are any serious underlying issues that need to be treated.
My 1st son was colicky & I remember how stressful it was for me the 1st couple of months, I highly recommend that as you mom you take care of yourself too, so you can have the energy and patience to soothe your baby. Ask for help from your partner, friends and family.
Bear in mind that it won’t last forever, the symptoms of colic usually seem to peak from about 2 months old and are resolved by 3months plus.
Crying because they are tired
Babies can’t communicate their needs so crying when they are tired can be one of the ways they tell their grown-ups that they need to shut-eye. While some babies are able to fall asleep when they are put down others can’t.
Baby staring blankly into space, being very fussy over the slightest things, sucking their fingers are some of the cues to look out for to determine if your baby is tired. The younger your baby is, the more subtle the cues…it usually takes a few weeks to be able to recognize the signs.
Overstimulating baby with singing, visitors and rocking can make it hard for baby to sleep. Switching the noise out, soothing music and calmness can help recognize that it’s time for them to sleep.
Crying because they are too hot or too cold.
The best way to check if your baby is too cold or too hot is by feeling their back neck or stomach. It’s not advisable to check their feet or their hands because these usually feel colder than the rest of their body.
Your baby’s room should normally be kept between 61-68 degrees F. Always use a room thermometer if you’re not sure about the room temperature. Make sure to place your baby on their back and at the bottom of the cot to avoid baby wriggling under the blanket and becoming too hot.
Babies generally need an extra layer of clothing than grown-ups. Wearing too many layers might lead to overheating and discomfort. Cotton sheets and cellular blankets are highly recommended for use in your baby’s cot.
You can add a layer if your baby’s stomach feels cold to touch or remove a layer if it feels too hot. Always make sure to use the right fit and tog of sleep bag.
Crying because they need cuddles
Babies need a lot of physical contact, cuddling and reassurance in order to feel comforted.
Crying sometimes is just a way of letting you know they want you to hold them. When held, try singing and swaying as this will distract and comfort your baby.
Your baby loves the sound of your heartbeat, your smell and your body warmth so try keeping them close to you for long periods to reassure and comfort them. You could also try carrying them in a carrier or sling.
Crying because they need a nappy change.
Your baby may cry if their nappy is wet or soiled. Some babies might not mind a dirty diaper unless their skin feels irritated.
Learning to change your baby quickly could help if they become fussy during nappy change – they normally do so because they don’t like the cold air on their skin. Distracting them with a song or toy sometimes can be quite helpful.
Crying because they are unwell
It’s normal for babies to cry in a different tone than usual when they are unwell. The ton might sound more urgent, high-pitched, weaker & sometimes continuous.
Your baby might also become quieter than usual and this might also be a sign of not feeling well.
Your baby teething could also make them more irritable and restless.
You know your baby best, so trust your instinct and take your baby to see a doctor if you feel the need to.
Urgent signs to see your doctor straight away include:
- persistent crying with a fever of 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit
- difficulty breathing
- severe constipation or diarrhea
Other ways to soothe a crying baby
With time you will learn your baby’s personality and know what works in terms of soothing them. If feeding or cuddling don’t work you could these other techniques:
Rocking and swaying
Babies generally love gentle motions. So try rocking them in your arms, on a swing or on a rocking chair. You could also try taking them for a drive or a walk in a pushchair
A gentle tummy massage
When your baby is alert, give them a tummy and back rub with unscented baby oils and creams in a clockwise direction. Tummy massages and your touch could help with digestion and soothing.
Give your baby a warm bath
A warm bath could be very soothing and comforting for some babies. Always check the temperature of the water either with your elbow or a thermometer to make sure it’s safe. The water should be no more than 98- 100 degrees Fahrenheit
Give your baby something to suck on
You could offer your baby the breast if you are breastfeeding. A clean knuckle, finger or pacifier to suck on could also help soothe and calm your baby.
What to do if nothing seems to soothe your crying baby
Babies crying is normal, so don’t blame yourself if they sometimes won’t be soothed. It might just be more helpful to accept that your baby naturally cries more than most.
If you have tried everything and nothing seems to be working then take care of yourself.
You could let your baby cry for a few minutes out of ear range by simply leaving them in their cot. Use this time to take deep relaxing breaths.
Solicit help and support from friends and family. Take a break and let someone else look after your baby for a while
Join a local parent and baby support group. So you can meet other parents who might be in the same situation and you can be there for each other.
Seek professional advice from a health practitioner regarding strategies on how to cope.
It is always very important to remember that crying in babies is just a phase. It will pass as they learn how to communicate their needs more effectively. Once they do, the crying will stop.
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Kami C. is a wife and mum to 3 adorable boys. She is a Certified Life Coach. She is passionate about helping others achieve a life they love and deserve. She is also an author and freelance writer. Writing truly brings joy to her soul. She believes in spreading love and kindness to make the world a better place.