All infants cry as a way to communicate. Crying gives your baby a way to call for help when he/she is hungry or uncomfortable. It helps him/her to relieve tension when sights, sounds or other sensations are too intense. Your baby is learning how to cope with her/his new environment outside of the womb and it can be stressful. You may notice that your baby gets fussy at certain times of the day; this kind of fussy crying seems to help babies get rid of excess energy so they can return to a more contented state.
As you and your baby learn more about each other, you may notice that your baby has different cries. You may even be able to identify his/her specific needs by the way he/she cries. The best way to handle crying is to respond promptly to your baby whenever he/she cries during his/her first months of life. You cannot spoil a baby by giving her/him attention, and if you promptly answer his/her calls for help, your infant may cry less overall.
When responding to your infants cries, check to see what be the most pressing need first. Is your baby hungry? is her/his diaper wet or soiled? Is your baby too cold or too hot? Does your baby need to be burped? Is he/she tired? Sometimes babies can get overwhelmed from too much activity and need to be consoled.
Here are some things you can do to provide comfort to your crying baby:
- allow your baby to eat and sleep on demand
- check diapers often and change as soon as your baby is wet or soiled
- rock your baby in your arms
- sing or talk softly to your baby
- play soft music or recordings of falling rain, wave sounds or play a wind up stuffed animal or mobile
- take your baby for a ride in the car if possible and be sure to secure your baby in an infant car seat
- try a warm, soaking bath
- gently massage your baby’s arms, legs or feet
- carry your infant against your body in a sling
- swaddle your baby in a blanket
- provide sucking opportunities; which can include nursing, offering your own clean, clipped finger or a pacifier
- keep lights low and noises to a minimum
It is also very important for you to have a plan for when you feel stressed from caring for a new baby. The more relaxed you are the easier it is for you to console your baby. Don’t take your baby’s crying personally; your baby is just adjusting to a new world outside of the womb. Listening to a crying baby can be difficult, but try not to let your frustration turn to anger or panic, as this will most likely increase your baby’s own distress. No matter how impatient or angry you feel, do not shake your baby. Shaking an infant can cause brain damage or other serious injury and even death. Even mild shaking can cause damage. Your baby depends on you to provide loving and nurturing care; so it is okay for you to ask for help. Remember no parent is immune to feeling that circumstances are beyond their ability to manage, plan ahead and develop a list of available support people and keep the list next to your phone. These people should be people who you know you can count on to be encouraging, understanding, reliable and responsible. If you find that the stress is becoming to intense for you, set your baby down gently in his/her crib if you think you might be inclined to shake or harm him/her baby and walk into another room to give yourself time to calm down. If you feel you are beyond your ability to cope, call someone who can come to your home within a few minutes or call the National Parent Hotline 1-855-427-2736. If feelings of loss of control or a desire to harm your baby persist, talk to your obstetrician or family doctor immediately or call any crisis organization to assist you.