By Ruth Dearing
Attention All New Parents: Babies Cry!
As a new parent it can be difficult to listen to your baby cry, especially if the crying seems to be non-stop. It’s important to understand that crying is your baby’s only form of verbal communication and that it’s actually not all bad! Crying is healthy for a baby and can happen for a number of reasons:
Your Baby is Hungry
This is an easy one to fix, although a lot of new moms mistake tiredness for hunger.
New Parent Tip #1
If you offer your baby a feed and they are not hungry they may not drink, but often if you are breastfeeding and you offer your baby food, he may simply be tired and use your nipple as a pacifier. If you find that soon after your baby starts feeding he falls asleep it’s most likely he wasn’t actually hungry at all!
New Parent Tip #2
It helps to remember (or write down) the times your baby has been fed and for how long, as this will help you know if the reason for the crying is hunger or not. After a while you will realise the difference between your baby eating and just chewing, and can pull him off if he’s not interested in feeding.
Your Baby is Wet or has Poo
This is another easy one to fix, however if you are using disposable diapers your baby may not cry if they are wet as they are probably not that uncomfortable. Chances are the indicators for poo are obvious, and although as a new parent you may find diaper changes most unpleasant they will just become second-nature to you and somehow are more bearable when it’s your own baby.
New Parent Tip #3
You may remember that prior to being a parent you were not particularly interested in hearing about other baby’s poo stories, and as a new parent no doubt you’ll soon have plenty of stories of your own to share! Be aware that while other new mums will happily listen to your stories and share their own with you, don’t be surprised if other people may have no interest in this topic!
Your Baby has Upper Wind
Some babies have more wind than others, but all need to be burped after feeding. If your baby doesn’t release upper wind it then works its way down their little body and transforms to lower wind, which is generally more upsetting for your baby and more difficult to release.
New Parent Tip #4
You will soon get to know your baby and figure out the best way for them to burp, often this is just holding them upright with the head on your shoulder and patting them on their back. Some babies release upper wind easier if you lie them face down on your lower arm that you hold horizontally across your body.
New Parent Tip #5
Whilst you don’t want hurt your baby by patting her too hard, being too gentle may be ineffective. Your baby won’t break if you pat them on the back so don’t be too scared to apply some pressure to get rid of that wind and help your baby feel more comfortable.
Your Baby has Lower Wind
Lower wind is more prevalent in some babies than others, and just as adults experience this from time to time it is a normal bodily function for babies.
New Parent Tip #6
A great way to help your baby get rid of lower wind is to hold him with his back against your chest, with your lower arm under his thighs, so that he is effectively sitting in the same position he would be if on a toilet, facing the same way you are.
Your Baby is Too Hot or Cold
It can sometimes be hard to tell if your baby is too hot or too cold, as their bodies do not yet regulate their temperature in the same way as a grown-up. Feel their face to check if they are too hot (most new parents tend to put more clothes and blankets on their babies than less) and just remove layers or blankets until your baby settles down.
Your Baby is Tired
This is a big one, and as with feeds it’s useful to note down when your baby has slept and for how long, so you will realise sooner if this is the reason your baby is crying. When your baby is older she may rub her eyes when tired which is of course a dead give-away, but unfortunately a newborn baby will not yet give you this obvious sign.
New Parent Tip #7
The most important thing with tiredness is to take action sooner than later, as a tired baby is much easier to settle than an over-tired baby – this is a situation you want to avoid at all costs! Settling a baby is a whole new article in itself so for more information check out our article on settling your baby.
Your Baby is Unwell
From time to time your baby may just not be feeling well, he may have a headache or a runny nose and simply be feeling a bit off. All you can really do in this situation is provide comfort in the form of pats and cuddles, and a soothing voice reassuring him he will soon be feeling better.
New Parent Tip #8
A baby’s body is extremely good at healing itself – you will notice any cuts and bruises on a baby heal quickly – and health issues that are not visible will also be healing naturally quite quickly. There is usually no need to medicate your child, and in any case there is not much medication available for newborn babies as it is an acknowledged fact that it can be harmful. It is also very difficult to ascertain exactly what is wrong with your baby as of course they cannot explain that their head is sore or their tummy hurts. Just as you wouldn’t take medication yourself without having a known reason, the same applies for your baby.
Over or Under-Stimulation
Sometimes babies can be bored, and other times there may be so much going on around them that they are overwhelmed by it all and find it difficult to cope. It could be that you are out somewhere and it is very noisy with loud music and lots of people all talking at once and lots of things to look at – too much for your little baby to deal with at once!
How much is too little or too much? This is something your baby can tell you so just listen to them and if possible adapt the situation to meet their needs. If your baby settles down they are obviously happier and more content with their surroundings.
Your Baby Feels Like Crying
If you’ve exhausted all the usual reasons for your baby to be crying but it is still happening, it could just be that your baby feels like having a cry. She may feel the need to just get it off her chest and she will want to be heard. As adults we too feel much better sometimes after a cry if we need to get things out of our system, so that we can then move on in a happier state of mind.
New Parent Tip #9
If your baby is crying she may not want a dummy or pacifier shoved in her mouth, if you offer her a dummy and she spits it out she is trying to tell you something. Babies need to feel like they are being listened to – as much as it may pain us to do the listening! Just hold your baby and allow her to get the crying out of her system, and you’ll find that once she feels she’s had a good cry she will be much happier, and therefore so will you.
Think about this – if there is something on your mind and you want to let it out and talk to someone about it, do you want your friend to listen to you? Or do you want them to shut you up so that you are quiet and they will feel better? Sometimes telling your baby to “shush” or giving them their dummy is like telling them you don’t want to listen to them, and although this may be the obvious and most tempting action to take it may not be the quickest way to stop the crying. More importantly believe it or not, by telling your baby you don’t want to listen you are teaching her that it’s not safe to cry or to let out her emotions, and this can actually have undesirable long-term effects on her.
Hopefully this newborn baby advice will help you ascertain why your baby is crying and how you can deal with it. Some babies do cry more than others and spending time with your baby will help you know why they are crying. Don’t be too hard on yourself as a new parent, your baby will cry and you will find you have more patience than you ever thought possible at this point in your life!