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Crying


                                                    

It is normal for babies to cry, but some babies cry a lot and this can be very stressful for parents. It is important that you understand that crying is a natural part of a child’s development. Crying is the most effective way babies have of communicating their needs. Babies cry most in the first year of life, and most of all in the first six months. It is natural for you to worry that you must be doing something wrong if your baby cries.  But keep in mind that even normal healthy babies may cry for somewhere between one and three hours a day. In time, your baby will settle into a routine and you will also learn to recognise what your baby’s cries mean. Initially, all crying sounds the same, but after a few weeks of listening closely and responding; you will begin to figure out what your baby is trying to tell you.

                                     Why do babies cry?

Here are some reasons why your baby might be crying:
  • Your baby may be hungry. Most newborns need feed every few hours round the clock. Some babies become frantic when hunger strikes.

  • Your baby may be feeling too hot or too cold. Check that your baby’s sleep is not getting disturbed simply because he is too cold or too hot. Remember, do not use a duvet, quilt or pillow before your baby is at least a year old.

  • Your baby may be uncomfortable. He will protest if his clothes are too tight, or if a wet or soiled nappy is making him uncomfortable. Check your baby’s diaper often to make sure it is clean and dry.

  • Your baby may be tired. Babies will often cry because they need to sleep. Newborns often sleep up to 16 hours a day. If your baby is crying because he is over-stimulated and needs a rest, then all that singing and talking may be keeping him awake.

  • Your baby may be getting bored. He may be in need of little entertainment. This doesn’t mean that he is demanding or attention seeking but is as much in need of a bit of socialising as you would be if you were tucked up for most of the day in a cot.

  • Your baby may need a cuddle from you. Adults can be comforted by soothing words. For babies, words and sight are often not enough and they need the safety of close physical contact. Hold your baby if that is what he needs.

  • Your baby may be unwell. If there are other signs that he may be ill, such as rash or a high temperature, then always ask your doctor to check your baby.

  • Crying during feeds: Some babies cry a lot and seem unsettled around the time of a feed. If you are breast feeding, you may find that improving your baby’s attachment helps them to settle. You can talk to your doctor or refer to positioning and attachment section under breast feeding.

                                            Calming a crying baby

The best way to handle a crying baby is to respond quickly and try to meet his needs. First check all the obvious reasons why your baby might be crying, and meet the most pressing need. Is he hungry, sleepy, bored, or uncomfortable? The crying will often just stop. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t. There just doesn’t seem to be any reason why it carries on. You could try some of the following ideas to help comfort your baby.

  • If you are breast feeding, let your baby suckle at your breast.

  • Hold your baby close to you. Move about gently, sway and dance, talk to him or sing softly.

  • Distract your baby’s attention with something like a rattle or a toy.

  • Try rocking your baby gently in your arms, while standing or sitting in a rocking chair, or go out for a walk or drive. Many babies settle when taken for a walk.

  • Swaddling: many babies are soothed by being wrapped closely. It is a tried-and-tested method for soothing newborns. It can help a baby settle by making him feel safe and secure. Remember, never put a swaddled baby to sleep in a cot or your bed.

  • Play soft music. Find something to listen to or look at such as a mobile above the cot.

  • Try stroking your baby’s back or chest firmly and rhythmically, holding them against you or lying face downwards on your lap. Or undress your baby and massage with baby oil, gently but firmly. Talk soothingly as you do it. Make sure the room is warm enough.

  • Sometimes, rocking and singing can keep your baby awake. You might find that lying him down after a feed will help.

  • Change locations (from light to dark, from noise to a quiet place)

  • If you think wind is the problem, burp him or try some colic drops

  • Still crying? Check that your baby is not ill; see your doctor

                                                  Coping yourself
 
                             

A crying baby can be exhausting and stressful. It is very hard to always be patient with your baby, especially if he cries a lot. There may be times when you may find yourself feeling frustrated, angry, helpless and distressed.  However, the last thing you should do is lose your temper. Shouting or getting rough with your baby, who won’t stop crying will only make matters worse. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. It’s really hard to cope alone with a constantly crying baby.

  • Remind yourself that your baby cannot control her crying and is not trying to get at you.
     
  • Try to stay calm in the face of their crying tantrums and remind yourself that this difficult time will not last forever.

  • If there’s someone else available (grandparents, neighbour, or a friend), ask them to help out for a while. This will help you calm down and get some rest. Sometimes a fresh face and a new pair of hands can do wonders.

  • If you are on your own, you may need to take a break when you feel angry feelings building up. Put your baby down in a safe place and walk away. Go outside perhaps, take some deep breaths or make a cup of tea. When you feel calmer, go back to your baby and try to settle her again.

  • Don’t forget to eat well every day to keep up your energy. If a crying baby interrupts your evenings, make lunch your main meal of the day.

  • If nothing works, check with your doctor to see if there is a medical reason for crying (e.g. colic). Watch out for any sudden changes in the pattern or sound of your baby’s crying. If you think there is something wrong, follow your instincts and contact your doctor.

  • If things are really getting you down so you are finding it hard to enjoy your baby at all, or you are often tearful or feeling depressed, it is important that you talk it over with your doctor.

Remember

You are not the first parent who has to deal with crying, and you won’t be the last. No matter how frustrated you feel, you must never shake your baby. Shaking moves a baby’s head violently and can cause bleeding and brain damage. You can join our baby club to get in touch with other parents who are in a similar situation.


Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics. (2004). Caring for your baby and young child: Birth to age 5. New York: Bantam Books.

 

 

 



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