Why do babies cry?
All babies cry sometimes. It's perfectly normal. Most small babies cry for between 1 hour to 3 hours each day. Babies can't do anything for themselves and rely on you to provide them with the food, warmth and comfort that they need. Crying is the baby's way to communicating his/her needs and ensuring a response from you. It's sometimes hard to work out what your baby is telling you. But in time you will learn to recognize what your baby needs. And as babies grow they'll learn other ways of communicating with you. They'll get better at eye contact, making noises and smiling, all of which reduce their need to cry for attention.
In the meantime, if your baby is difficult to soothe, he/she may be trying to say:
- I'm hungry. Hunger is one of the most common reasons that your newborn baby will cry. The younger your baby is, the more likely it is that she's hungry.Your baby's small stomach can't hold very much, so if she cries, try offering her some milk.She may be hungry, even if her last feed doesn't seem very long ago. It's likely that you will be feeding often and regularly in the first day or so to help your breast milk to come in anyway.If you are formula feeding your baby she may not be hungry if she has been fed within the last 2 hours.
- I need my nappy changing.Your baby may protest if her clothes are too tight or if a wet or soiled nappy is bothering her.Or she may not mind if her nappy is full and may actually enjoy the warm and comfortable feeling. But if your baby's tender skin is being irritated she will most likely cry.
- I'm too cold or too hot Your baby may hate having her nappy changed or being bathed. She may not be used to the feeling of cold air on her skin and would rather be bundled up and warm. But you will soon learn how to perform a quick nappy change if this is the case.Take care not to overdress your baby, or she may become too hot. She will generally need to wear one more layer of clothing than you to be comfortable.Use sheets and cellular blankets as bedding in your baby's cot. You can check whether your baby is too hot or too cold by feeling her tummy. If her tummy feels too hot, remove a blanket, and if it feels cold, add one.Don't be guided by your baby's hands or feet, as they usually feel cool. Keep your baby's room at a temperature of between 22 and 25 degrees C depending on the weather.If your baby is co-sleeping with you, contact with your body will elevate her skin temperature so she's likely to be warm.
- I need to be held : Your baby will need lots of cuddling, physical contact and reassurance to comfort her. So it may be that she just wants to be held. Try a baby sling to keep her close to you, perhaps swaying and singing to her while you hold her.You may be worried about spoiling your baby if you hold her too much. But during the first few months of her life that's not possible. Small babies need lots of physical comfort. If you hold your baby close she may be soothed by hearing your heartbeat.
- I'm tired and need a rest Often, babies find it hard to get to sleep, particularly if they are over-tired. You will soon become aware of your baby's sleep cues. Whining and crying at the slightest thing, staring blankly into space, and going quiet and still are just three examples.If your baby has received a lot of attention and cuddles from doting visitors, she may become over-stimulated. Then, when it comes to sleeping, she'll find it hard to switch off and settle.Take your baby somewhere calm and quiet to help her to settle down
- .I need something to make me feel better .Be aware of changes in your baby. If she's unwell, she'll probably cry in a different tone to her usual cry. It may be weaker, more urgent, continuous, or high-pitched. And if your baby usually cries a lot but has become unusually quiet, it may be a sign that she's not well.Nobody knows your baby as well as you do. If you feel that there may be something wrong with her, visit your baby's doctor and discuss your concerns. Visit your babies doctor if your baby has difficulty breathing through the crying, or if the crying is accompanied by a fever,vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.
- I need something... but I don't know what, Sometimes you might not be able to figure out what's wrong when your baby cries. Many newborns go through patches of fretfulness and are not easily comforted. The unhappiness can range from a few minutes of hard-to-console crying to several hours at a stretch, an almost constant state of crying that is sometimes called colic. Colic is defined as inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, for at least three days a week.Many parents find it very difficult to cope with a baby who has colic, and it can put a strain on the whole family. There is no magic cure for colic, but it rarely lasts for more than three months. If you can hold on to the fact that your baby will grow out of it, that may help.
- My baby's still crying. What can I do? As you gradually get to know your baby's personality you'll learn which techniques work best for her. If a cuddle doesn't do the job, these suggestions may help:Wrap her up and hold her tight. Newborns show a definite preference for feeling snug and secure, just as they were in the womb, so you might like to try swaddling your baby in a blanket to see if she likes that. Many parents also find that holding their baby close, especially when she can hear their heartbeat,or putting her in a baby sling is soothing. Other babies find swaddling too restrictive and respond better to other forms of reassurance such as being rocked or sung to.Find a constant sound. In the uterus (womb), your baby could hear the beat of your heart, which is why she likes to be held close to you now. There are other repetitive noises that may also have a calming effect.Many parents find that if their baby can hear the steady rhythm of a ticking clock that will soon lull her off to sleep. You could try playing gentle music or singing a lullaby or even the garbhasanskar music you listened to during pregnancy.You can also download white-noise sounds or a white-noise app for your phone, or buy a white-noise CD created for babies. These mimic the sounds in the uterus and may soothe your crying baby.
- Rock-a-bye baby Babies usually love to be gently rocked. You could:
- Walk around while rocking them.
- Sit with them in a rocking chair.
- If they are old enough, put them securely in a baby swing.
- Take them out for a ride in your car.
- Take them out for a walk in their pram or stroller.
- Try a massage or a tummy rub Using massage oils or cream and gently rubbing her back or tummy can help to soothe your baby. It may also make you feel better, as it's a practical way of reducing your baby's distress.
- Try a different feeding position. Some babies cry during or after feeds. If you are breastfeeding, you may find that improving the way your baby latches on helps her to feed calmly without crying.If she seems to have painful gas during feeds, you could try feeding her in a more upright position. Burp your baby after a feed by holding her against your shoulder.
- If your baby cries straight after a feed, he/she may still be hungry. Let him/her suck on something. In some newborns, the need to suck is very strong. Sucking at your breast while feeding, a clean finger can bring great comfort. Comfort sucking can steady a baby's heart rate, relax her tummy, and help her to settle.
- Give them a warm bath. A warm bath may soothe your baby and help him/her to calm down. Check the water temperature before placing them in there. But bear in mind that this may also make them cry more if they hate baths. In time, you will get to know your baby's likes and dislikes.
Don't demand too much of yourself If your newborn cries almost constantly, she won't do herself lasting harm. But it's likely to cause you and your husband a great deal of stress and worry. If she's unhappy and resists every effort to calm her down, you may feel rejected and frustrated. But you are not the cause of her crying, so don't blame yourself.If you've met your baby's immediate needs and tried everything you can to calm her, but nothing's worked, it's time to take care of yourself:
- If you are in post-delivery confinement or live in a joint family, make the most of all the help and support you will get.
- Put on some quiet music and let yourself relax for a moment or two.
- Put your baby in her cot and let her cry for a short spell out of your range of hearing. Take deep breaths.
- If you and your baby are both upset and you've tried everything, Give yourself a break and let your husband or a close family member take over.
- Talk to your friends or parent-and-baby groups about coping strategies. Remind yourself that nothing is wrong with your baby and that crying won't hurt her. Sometimes simply accepting that you have a baby who cries a lot can help. You then won't wear yourself out looking for reasons for the crying, blaming yourself for it, or trying out endless potential remedies.This crying is a phase and it will pass.