Nothing sends new parents into panic mode quite like the cries of their baby. That deafening shriek seems to drown out the rest of the world as you make it your mission to soothe your baby. With a pounding heart, sweaty palms and, for the breastfeeding mothers, leaky nipples, you desperately try to ease your baby back to calm and content.
Sometimes it will be relatively easy to soothe your crying child. Just a little bit of detective work and you’ll have figured out that a dirty nappy is to blame for the tears. Other times, however, it won’t be that easy. There will be nights where your baby simply will stop crying – and you can’t work out why.
Firstly, this isn’t your fault. Your baby isn’t crying to let the world know what a terrible parent he has. You are a great parent doing a fantastic job, and a few tears don’t change that.
9 Ways To Soothe Baby Crying
If you’re having one of those nights, and are reading this in tear-stained pyjamas, here are 9 effective ways to soothe baby's (and yours!) tears away:
Baby Crying Tip #1: Skin-To-Skin Contact
The idea of trying to strip off your already angry and red faced baby may not be all that appealing, but skin-to-skin contact could help your baby to calm down. Undress your baby to his nappy and place him directly on your bare chest. You could tuck him into your t-shirt or place a blanket over him to keep him warm. Skin-to-skin contact triggers the release of oxytocin, allowing your baby to calm down. It can also help to control stress hormones, heart rate and temperature, all allowing your baby to relax. Skin-to-skin contact also triggers your body to release oxytocin, allowing you to calm down as well.
Baby Crying Tip #2: Offer A Feed
Babies have very small tummies and this means they need to feed frequently. They also go through growth spurts from time to time which increases how many feeds they regularly need. If you find yourself thinking he can’t possibly be hungry, I only just fed him, he’s probably going through a growth spurt. Cluster feeding is a normal part of your baby’s development. Always offer your crying baby the breast, even if he’s not hungry. Suckling may just be the thing that provides his the comfort and connection he needs to be soothed. Once your baby has started sobbing, getting him to latch on will be difficult. Try skin-to-skin first to help him calm down, and then offer him the nipple.
Baby Crying Tip #3: Try The Colic Carry
The colic carry is a position that offers some baby relief during colicky bouts. Lie your baby face down along your forearm. You can either do this with her head against your elbow, or against the palm of your hand. This position applies gentle pressure to your baby’s stomach and can relieve discomfort in colicky babies.
Baby Crying Tip #4: Move
This will probably be your neighbour’s first suggestion. Just kidding, you don’t need to move house, but a little bit of movement could help to calm your baby down. You may remember that your baby moved most in the womb when you were still – usually when you were moments away from falling asleep. That’s because your baby was rocked to sleep as you moved about during the day. Even after birth, babies still find motion relaxing and many are soothed by movement. Try gently rocking your baby in a rocking chair, gently swinging your baby in your arms, dancing from side to side with your baby in your arms, or taking your baby out for a walk in a pram or carrier or for a drive in the car.
Baby Crying Tip #5: Offer Your Finger
The motion of sucking is comforting to babies, and this is why many babies feed for comfort. If your baby refuses the breast, try offering a clean finger for him to suck. This helps to avoid the ‘nipple confusion’ that can arise from offering a dummy during those early weeks.
Baby Crying Tip #6: Run A Bath
A bath may help to soothe your baby. Try running a bath (not too hot) and then get in with your baby. Lie your baby on your chest so that his body is under the water, but his face is safely above. A bath with you has the added benefit of also offering skin-to-skin contact. The combination of water and skin-to-skin can be very soothing for babies.
Baby Crying Tip #7: Massage Your Baby
Touch is one of your baby’s senses and it’s one of the ways he explores the world around him. Touch can also help to calm your baby down. Baby massage may help to soothe your crying baby, but only if you have used this method before. You shouldn’t try baby massage for the first time when your baby is upset as a calming strategy. But if he’s used to being massaged, this a great tool to help soothe him. If you think your baby might be suffering with constipation of wind, try out some of the tummy massage moves you know as these can help move the digestive system along.
Baby Crying Tip #8: Background Noise
Your baby might find noise or music soothing. Try singing a lullaby or gently talking to your baby, your voice is one of his favourite sounds and he may find it soothing to hear you. You could also try playing classical music, or even a little bit of white noise to remind your baby of his time in the womb. There are plenty of tracks specially developed to soothe babies, they usually incorporate the rhythmic beat of a heart alongside other white noise effects that sound similar to the sounds that he would have heard in the womb.
Baby Crying Tip #9: Call In Backup
Listening to your baby cry is not easy, and every parent reaches a point where they simply can’t listen to it anymore. If you can feel yourself getting to that point, it’s time to call in backup. It can take as little as five minutes away from the cries for you to feel strong enough to tackle those tears again. This doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a wise parent. It’s always better to know when you’re reaching your limit, and then it’s time to call for backup. Call your partner, a family member, friend, neighbour or health worker and ask them to come and help you out for a few minutes so you can take a break.
The above trips are great for when you’re in the midst of a crying session, but you may be wondering if there’s anything you could do to avoid future recurrences. Try the following tips to help your baby avoid getting all worked up again in the future:
- Look out for cues – before the crying starts, your baby sends subtle messages in the form of facial expressions, movements and noises that can alert you to how he’s feeling. Using these cues he can let you know if he’s hungry, needs the toilet or overstimulated. Spend time observing your baby and look out for patterns for behaviour to try and translate his cues. Picking up on these early cues and solving the problem at that stage could avoid the need for tears.
- Respond quickly – don’t wait to see if your baby will settle herself. Newborn babies aren’t great at that, and waiting could mean your baby gets even more upset. The more upset he feels, the harder it is to soothe the crying. Picking up a crying baby is not ‘spoiling’ them, it is simply responding to their needs.
Do you have any baby crying tips? Share them in the comments section below.
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