All newborns cry and get fussy. Believe it or not, it’s normal. The cries can last for two to three hours a day, especially in the first six weeks. Yes, it may be a part of their growth but as parts of parenting, we need to learn how to calm a crying baby.
It can be tough with the lack of sleep. Imagine having to feed the baby every one or two hours and, on top of that, soothe them as well when they cry. Exhaustion is also a constant company, especially if one of you works full time. Here are the usual reasons why a baby cries:
- He’s hungry and wants to be fed
- He is gassy
- He feels tired
- He needs his wet diaper changed
- He feels hot or cold
- Something is making him uncomfortable
- He feels pain
Taking care of the baby’s needs is enough to soothe a baby, but sometimes the crying can go on and on. If your baby cries more than 3 hours a day that it gets difficult for them to stop, usually in the late afternoon and evening, then your baby might have colic. Colic is the common culprit for babies, and the interesting part is that no one can really tell where colic comes from.
The good news is babies outgrow colic, but it takes a lot of effort. It will take some times and patience to help babies go through this period. Visiting a pediatrician when necessary as they can recommend ways to soothe your colicky baby.
One of my friends told me the story of how she survived with her first baby. She was alone and without any family or relatives nearby. She told me how her baby cried a lot, especially at night-time. Sometimes it’s inconsolable, that my friend felt so powerless. I think most of the parents, including myself, have been through this before especially when your babies are still young.
“She (the baby) is so little, but I’m not in control. It’s so frustrating. I realized that the more I feel angry or frustrated, the more she cries, so I began to change my approach to soothe her.”
How to calm a crying baby?
Babies cry for a reason. Need to find out the root causes so that you can avoid babies from crying too frequently. As a parent myself, it really breaks my heart to hear my baby’s cries, we would do whatever we could to make our baby happy. Here are 7 ways that can help to calm a crying baby:
1. Dance while you carry the baby. Sing a lullaby such as “Twinkle little star” and whisper in her ears that she’s going to be okay because mommy is here. Don’t underestimate the power of your own voice because it works, even if you don’t sound like Celine Dion or Taylor Swift. Infants get soothed by the sound of their mom singing because your voice is already familiar to them. However, it’s not always convenient to pick her up, carry, swing and sing.
2. Put her in baby rocker or swing and turn up the tunes. Find some music that will help your baby to calm down. Sometimes slow rock or mellow sounds can help the baby to calm down.
3. Sometimes the baby will sleep well when the room is a little dark. So, turn the light off or put the curtain down. Put them in the baby rocker or swing. With this method, the baby usually falls asleep fast. Keep in mind that babies feel overstimulated if there is too much noise or light.
4. Change the baby’s environment, from nursery room to living room or patio. Sometimes, it is helpful to put the baby’s crib outside. Also, they often want to feel someone is moving around because it makes them feel safe.
5. If your tender loving care isn’t enough, try making white noise. It can come from the sound of an electric fan or vacuum cleaner or using a white noise machine. Another option is downloading a white noise app. Interestingly, this works as well. Just keep the volume low and not too close to their ears.
6. Breastfeeding can help soothe a crying baby. Breastfeeding is not only nourishing your child with nutrients and quenching his thirst but it is also bringing comfort and security. Babies like to suck for comfort, and he will find comfort when staying with his mother. Some people find it useful to soothe their crying babies by putting their mother’s used clothing, on him, so that he is able to “sense” his mother’s existence even though his mother is not around.
There is research in the UK that stated breastfed baby is harder to soothe than a bottle-fed baby. Whatever it is, if you find breastfeeding can help soothe your baby, go for it. Every baby is different.
7. “The Hold” method. Sharing with you, a useful video demonstrated by Dr. Hamilton on how to calm a crying baby with the “The Hold” method. This method is useful for babies who are less than 3 months old. When babies get older and heavier, it is not practical to hold your baby like what is demonstrated. Again, we need to find out what could be the reasons for crying and fussiness. It may not work if your baby is unwell or he is hungry.
Just to recap the simple procedure for “The Hold” method, taught by Dr. Hamilton in this video:
- Fold your baby’s arms across the chest.
- Secure their arms gently.
- Grasp their diaper area.
- Rock them up and down at 45o angle, and gently shake his bottom.
Just remember that no matter what happens or how frustrated you are, if your baby cries a lot, never shout at them or shake forcefully. This will not help the baby stop crying. You may injure your baby and can cause permanent brain damage or death.
With all the chaos happening with the baby, remember to find time to soothe yourself too. This new chapter, although it may bring lots of joy, is also accompanied by a lot of stress. So, find the time to sit comfortably, close your eyes and play some music that will make you feel relaxed. Watch something funny too because laughter is helpful for anyone who’s stressed or having uncomfortable emotions.
Sometimes, we try so many ways to keep the baby from crying. However, you also have to look within yourself. Our bodies go through many changes from the lack of sleep to the changes to our hormones. Work out that stress, do some exercise, or attend some spin class. Exercising releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) that can improve your mood. Focusing on your body can improve your mental health. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help.