WHY YOUR BABY CRIES…
Your baby's cry is his alert to you that he needs you to fix something.
By fixing what has gone wrong, you are teaching his fresh, new mind that when he feels bad, it's not going to last forever. By solving his problem you are teaching him that problems can be solved. This makes him feel secure and he is learning that he is able to cope with life. This is very important for his developing character.
THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF A BABY CRYING …
She is probably …
- tired - needs help settling and then gently put down to sleep
- uncomfortable - has wind and needs burping, is wet or dirty and needs changing, or maybe she is too cold or hot
- frightened - babies don't like sudden noise or unexpected things happening
- feeling lonely - and needs to feel safe and secure in your arms
It could be a combination of these - but unless she's sick, that's about it. A dad can fix all of these things as well as a mum - except for breastfeeding.
When your baby cries, she might sound and look like she is in great pain. She's probably isn't. But she does need attention.
SOOTHING A CRYING BABY…
… A MAN CAN DO IT … AND IT'S IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Even when your baby is dry, warm and full of milk, there will be times when he is fussy and cries for 'no reason', remember there still is a reason.
When this happens, people often say baby is colicky. But colic is not all that common. unless the baby is crying chronically, it'ss almost always due to one of the five things above.
WHEN YOU'VE TRIED IT ALL AND THE BABY'S STILL CRYING …
Put yourself in your baby's place. There was a time - not long ago - when all his needs were met every second of every minute of every day. He was never hungry, never cold and he always held and felt snug, safe and secure. This was what life was like before he was born. You can sooth a fussy baby by helping him feel like he's back in that wonderful, comfortable place again.
Try this …
• Wrap – your baby in a baby blanket firmly around her shoulders and arms (but not tight around the hips) with her arms against her chest (not down at her sides) so they can't flail about.
• Hold her on her stomach or side – maybe across your knee or securely on your forearm like a rugby ball. When she is upset she may feel more secure when you hold her like this.
• Shushing – make a 'white noise' or some continuous, steady sound near her ear. This helps because it was very loud in the womb with mother's heart beating, blood rushing around, air whooshing in and out of her lungs as wll as people talking.They say it's as loud as a vacuum cleaning inside a mother's body. New-borns are not used to silence.
• Jiggling – a continuous, small but firm movement. Remember how your partner was seldom still when she was in the later stages of her pregnant? Your baby was used to constant moving before she was born.
• Sucking – on her own hand or on your finger. Wait some weeks til she is breastfeeding well before introducing a dummy.
Doing these often works a treat. We got this from paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp who says reminding your baby of the womb comforts her. When she so recently had it so good, it shouldn't surprise us that it can take months for her to adjust to being in this strange world where she is not being held and attended to 24/7.
You can find lots of YouTube clips of Dr Karp - which are mostly U.S. daytime TV talk shows - but even so, he explains the concepts and demonstrates how to do it.
CRYING: WHAT DOESN’T WORK…
Shouting at baby won’t make him stop crying. Well, he may stop briefly if he is momentarily frightened. But he will start up again – probably even worse. Babies freak-out when they experience violent voices or actions!
NEVER SHAKE A BABY… it's been said a million times
If you shake a baby enough to make her stop crying, you will have done her injury that she may never recover from, like…
- blindness by detaching the optic nerve from her eye
- brain damage from her brain rattling against the side of her skull
- paralysis by damaging or severing her spine or neck
IF YOU BEGIN TO LOSE IT AROUND A CRYING BABY …
… back-off, get some space,make some distance. If you feel you can't take it anymore and there’s no one there to take the baby, put her in a safe place and go into the next room or take yourself outside. Do some deep breathing. Breathing deep changes the chemistry in your brain and will help you get a grip.
Check baby every 5-10 minutes but do not pick your baby up until you have calmed down and are in control.
Remember, your baby doesn’t want to cry, it’s not a choice she’s made. If she's crying it's because she can’t help it. In fact, she probably feels worse than you do!
THE PROGRESSION OF CRYING:
calm > alert > alarm > fear > terror
The sooner you interupt this, the easier it is to bring the baby back to calm.
LEAVING HIM TO 'CRY HIMSELF OUT'…
… IS BAD FOR YOUR BABY
Myth: sometimes a baby just has to cry himself out. This is simply not true.
Leaving him to 'cry himself out' does not teach a young baby to toughen up. It teaches him that no one is there for him and he will feel more and more out of control. A baby who is left to cry learns that the world is a terrifying place.
A baby who works themself into a huge cry is flooded by the 'stress hormone' cortisol. This chemical increases his blood pressure and blood sugar. If he is regularly left to cry for long periods, this chemical interferes with his metabolism, weakens his immune system and interrupts his brain’s development.
Picking up and soothing a crying baby eases off cortisol production and lets him get back into a calm space. In calmness, his body functions normally and his brain carries on growing properly.
Fact: A baby does NOT learn self-control or patience by being left to cry. A baby learns how to sooth himself … from you. When you are patient and sooth him lovingly, your crying baby is learning how to reach that calm place on his own, but it will take a lot of practice before he can do it. This is challenging for parents and you need to have patience.