During the first few months, babies cry about 1.5 hours per day for a whole range of reasons: hunger, pain, fear, tiredness, or they just want to be held. Persistent crying can cause huge amounts of stress and exhaustion so it’s important to find a way to calm your baby. Understanding your baby’s cues will help you to understand how to respond and in many cases prevent the crying from happening in the first place.
If your baby cries, try the following:
- Check to make sure he isn't hungry.
- Check to make sure he has a clean diaper. If not, change it.
- Look for signs of illness or pain. Check if he has a fever over 38C, swollen gums or an ear infection.
- Rock the baby or walk with him.
- Sing or talk to the baby.
- Offer him a pacifier or a toy.
- Take him for a ride in a stroller.
- Take him for a ride in the car. Be sure baby is secured in the car seat.
- Swaddle the baby by wrapping her snugly in a receiving blanket.
- Play music or turn on TV. Be sure the sound soothing.
- Run the vacuum cleaner, put on the clothes dryer or run water in the bathtub or sink. Some babies like these rhythmic noises.
- Hold the baby close to your body. Breathe calmly and slowly.
- If nothing else works, put the baby in his crib on his back, close the door and check on him in 10 minutes.
There is also a technique that many parents have used worldwide to calm their baby and put him to sleep in minutes. This approach turns on baby’s calming reflex by doing five simple steps that imitate their mother’s womb: the 5 S’s: 1) swaddle, 2) side, 3) shush, 4) swing, 5) suck. Watch this video to learn the technique in just a few minutes. You can also learn more about the technique at the Happiest Baby website.
It is important that you respond to your baby quickly to reassure them that they are not alone. Don’t worry, you can’t spoil him with too much holding. Studies have found that babies who were held and carried often cried much less. They also end up being much more independent toddlers, according to research by Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s leading public health institutions.
If your baby cries longer than usual and nothing you do soothes him, call your baby's doctor to see if there is a medical reason or if he's sick. He may also have colic, which is intense crying for more than 3 hours a day. This occurs in about 1 in 10 babies. It starts at around 2-3 weeks of age, peaks at around 6 weeks and continues until baby is 3-4 months old. It occurs at the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon to early evening. Around 20% of babies are thought to be colicky. There are many theories for why some babies are colicky, but it is very possible that the baby is sensitive to being over-tired or over-stimulated, and not because of gas problems. If your baby seems to have colic, practice the “Five S’s” explained in the video above.
Never shake your baby. If you begin to feel very frustrated, put the baby down somewhere safe and step away. You can also call a friend or relative for help. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to cause lasting brain damage in a baby, which results in shaken baby syndrome (SBS). SBS is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. The average age of the victims is 3-8 months. In most cases, the person who hurts the baby is a young male in his early twenties, often the baby's father or the mother's boyfriend. About half the babies who have SBS die.
Category: Crying and Calming