"I must be doing something wrong?"... wrong!
Experiencing your baby crying can be really overwhelming as a new parent, particularly if your baby remains unsettled and upset for prolonged periods of time. There is something about that new born cry that really gets to us and no matter how hard we try to resolve the crying and comfort our baby, sometimes we are left feeling completely inadequate and hopeless as a new parent. And that's okay!
It is completely normal to feel frustrated, confused and distressed even, but try to keep in mind, this is your baby's way of communicating with you... they are always trying to tell you something and are not crying to be manipulative or are intentionally upset you. Despite what your great-aunt Hilda might tell you!
Your brain has been biologically programmed to feel this way; the distress you feel signals an automatic response to resolve your baby’s cry. Nature has designed us in this way. Our caveman ancestors relied upon their infants cry to tell them they were too close to the fire and about to cook or needed picking up for a feed in between foraging for food and cleaning the cave! This clever evolution of man has meant we have protected our species through our desire to protect and nurture.
Remember, crying is completely normal and simply your baby’s way of communicating their needs.
The most common reasons for crying are:
• Wet or dirty nappy
• Being too hot or too cold
• Wanting a cuddle
There may be times of the day when your baby cries a lot and cannot be comforted. Early evening (the witching hour, as it’s often called!) is the most common time for this to happen. This can be really challenging, as it's often the time when you're most tired and least able to rationalise what’s going on. The good news is, crying tends to peak at about 7 weeks, then gradually tails off.
What are some of the things you can do to help soothe your baby?
• If you're breastfeeding, try putting your baby to your breast. Suckling is soothing for your little one.
• Try some gentle white noise… a fan, washing machine or simply ssshhh.
• Hold your baby close or put them in a sling so they’re right next to you. Move about gently, sway and dance.
• Talk to them or try singing.
• Some older babies like holding or nuzzling a comforter.
• Rock your baby in their pram.
• Get out for a walk using the sling or pram.
• Go out for a drive. Lots of babies settle really well in cars and often fall asleep.
• Play some gentle and calming music.
• Show them something of interest… maybe a touchy feely book or a rattle.
• Try stroking your baby's back firmly and rhythmically, holding them against your chest.
• Try a warm bath.
• Undress your baby and massage them gently and firmly. Avoid using any oils or lotions until your baby's at least a month old. Talk soothingly as you do so and keep the room nice and warm. Check out a local baby massage class for tips and techniques.
If nothing seems to work and your baby’s crying becomes too much to bare, remember you are not alone. Place your baby safely in their cot and step away for a few moments. Go and make yourself a cup of tea and gather your thoughts. Your baby will be perfectly safe and you will be in a better place to soothe them if you are feeling calm.
Talk to your GP or Health Visitor if you are worried that your baby’s crying is persistent or unusually high pitched. 111 are a great service for advice too.