“Can’t you keep your baby quiet?”
She actually said that to me.
I was doing the best I could. But nothing was working.
So I walked outside with my baby screaming and my tears streaming—and felt like a terrible mommy.
But I wasn’t. And when it’s your baby crying, don’t let someone make you feel terrible, either.
In the midst of your baby’s weeping and wailing, it’s easy to doubt your parenting skills. At Choices Pregnancy Center, we understand that feeling. So here are some tips to build your confidence. (Scroll down and you’ll find even more tips summarized in a colorful PDF you can post somewhere handy, too.)
Why Do Babies Cry?
If you could ask your baby why she’s crying, she would probably reply with one of 4 answers:
- “I’m uncomfortable”
- “I’m getting too much (or not enough) stimulation”
- “I hurt”
- “I’m not even sure why myself”
Let’s start with a look at those three first reasons Baby cries and what you can do about them.
- Is Baby hungry? (Breastfeeding can often calm a child through both nourishment and close contact with Mommy.)
- Does Baby need a fresh diaper? Or diaper rash ointment? (Change her diaper.)
- Is Baby too cold or too hot? (Change her coverings.)
- Is Baby teething? (Follow the link to find out when teething happens and some soothing techniques.)
“Too much (or not enough) stimulation”
- Does Baby need more play time? Snuggling? Eye contact? (Meet those needs for her.)
- Does Baby need to sleep? (Take her to a quiet, darkened area and help her go to sleep.)
- Does Baby just need to be held? (Watch this short video on ways to hold a fussy baby. )
- Is Baby overstimulated? (Take her away from the noise and lights. Shelter her in your arms so she can calm down.)
- Does Baby need to burp? (Try patting her back while you hold her, or putting her on her tummy for a bit.)
- Is Baby sick? (Our recent post can help you decide—and find ways you can help her.)
- Does Baby’s tummy hurt?
o Gas can often be eased by laying Baby on her back and gently bicycling her legs.
o Colic may result in crying as long as three hours at a time. This is not a disease, but it is an uncomfortable period some babies go through. Ask your doctor for suggestions to help your unique baby.
o Other problems may cause tummy pain. See this helpful article for more about them.
When Baby Won’t Stop Crying
If you can rule out the above reasons for crying, and Baby is still wailing, it’s possible she is having PURPLE crying. This is a lengthy period of inconsolable crying, usually in the evening. It will probably increase in Baby’s early months, then go away after 3-5 months of age. (For more information on PURPLE crying, visit this great website. It will help put your mind at ease.)
Remaining calm yourself is the most helpful thing you can do for your crying child. If you feel anger mounting, lay your baby down in a safe place and step away for a few minutes. Listen to a quiet song, catch a breath of fresh air, send a friend a quick text and ask for sympathy, or whatever helps you regain your composure. Then you can return to your child refreshed, and let her know you’re still there for her.
NEVER SHAKE YOUR BABY.
Shaking can cause your child permanent brain damage. Ask a trusted friend to babysit if you need to get away from your baby to calm down. Click here to print out our brochure on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
While your baby is crying, remind yourself of this principle:
Some methods of soothing work sometimes; no soothing method will work all the time.
A crying baby doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom.
How We Can Help You
Take our free poster.
You can hang it where it will be most helpful. Print it (on 8 ½ x 11” paper) by clicking on the image below, or come by our office and pick up one we’ve printed out for you.
Get free parenting pointers.
Our Earn While You Learn program has great resources for you, like these:
- Help understanding your baby’s cries: Dunstan Baby Language dvd
- Lessons on “Crying, Colic and Sleeping”, “Infant Temperament” and many more
- Free handouts on topics like Shaken Baby Syndrome
Don’t struggle alone with your baby’s crying. Come on in and share your story
with our trained advocates—who are also experienced mothers.
Parenting is a journey, and Choices Pregnancy Center is here to walk with you.