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Help, My Baby Won’t Stop Crying!

Newborns and babies will cry – a lot! They’ll cry when they are hungry, they’ll cry when their diaper gets too uncomfortable and needs to be changed, they’ll even cry because they miss you and simply want to be carried! So, how do you keep calm and handle this situation, especially when the crying gets really loud and/or inconsolable?

There are some babies who cry more than others, and their wailing sounds may signal colic or some other underlying medical condition. Some babies, especially newborns, may also take a longer time adjusting to a life outside the comforts of their mother’s womb.

It is important that parents determine the cause of the baby’s distress. Recent studies show that, with time, babies will cry less, if their cries are promptly answered. Colic is a different matter; this condition will probably run its course no matter what parents do. Generally, though, if an infant’s needs are not met, the crying tends to escalate and the little one becomes more difficult to console.

Parents need to understand their child’s crying language. The biological and hormonal changes a mother experiences when she hears her baby cry, urge her to pick up and comfort her baby. It’s important to listen to your own biological cues when your baby cries, since most parents have natural instincts for calming their infant.

Why Babies have to Cry
Crying has two main functions. One, it’s a message to the parents that something is wrong. A baby’s cry is really designed to be heard. The second function is a self-regulatory one. Babies use crying as an adaptive tool that helps them adjust to different environments. For example, in an airplane, an infant’s crying is her body’s attempt to deal with the change of air pressure in the plane. This crying actually helps balance the pressure in the inner ear.

There are two kinds of excessive criers: those who are crying because of colic or some kind of internal discomfort, and those who are just not sleeping well. Colicky babies tend to cry every few hours, every day, for weeks. Often these episodes occur late in the day and are accompanied by babies scrunching up their faces and pulling their knees to their chests. There is no set cause or treatment for colic.

Sometimes a Change of Formula is Helpful
It’s worth a try, for babies can’t really tell you that they’re feeling uncomfortable after a feed. Not all formulas are the same, and if you mix around with moms and babies long enough, you’ll hear stories of how one formula turned out to be much better for their infant compared to another formula. In breastfed children, a review of the mother’s diet may be needed. Certain foods transferred through the mother’s milk may not agree with the baby’s digestive system.

They’ll Grow Out of It
During the first few weeks of life, parents’ main concern is making sure they are well fed and cared for, and also, to ensure that their baby feels safe, secure and comforted. But as months pass, in addition to all these parents need to teach babies to self-sooth and get used to being by themselves from time to time. This is where parents need to have a balance, and resist the urge to mollycoddle. Most babies will wake up several times each night and they need to be able to comfort themselves so they will go back to sleep. After the third month, parents should set up a routine with a regular bedtime. This can be done by having a set time for dinner, some rewinding, a warm bath if needed, a milk feed if needed together with a story-telling session and/or lullaby, and finally, time for bed. Routines such as the above will help a baby feel secure and he’ll expect what comes next, making it easier to accept.

Bedtime tips:

  • Read the baby a book and put him to bed while he’s still awake, but sleepy.
  • If baby sleeps in his own room, let him fuss a bit, after which you can go in and comfort him. However, resist picking him up.
  • Babies who learn to fall asleep independently at bedtime will learn to soothe themselves at other times and will thus, cut down on their crying.

Is This Crying Normal?
Many parents ask, ‘What is normal crying?’ Some babies need to cry for several hours during the day, just as some babies need to sleep more or eat more than others. It is time to worry when babies cry even when they are full, are fretful, and look like something is hurting them.

If despite everything you do, your baby is still crying, bring the infant in for a physical examination to determine if the child is ill or has a condition like reflux. You can always consult your pediatrician for added suggestions.

Get to Know Your Baby’s Cries
Crying is the quickest way for your baby to let you know he’s tired, hungry, in pain or just bored The question is, which cry is which? Here are the three main types of cries.

Feed me, I’m hungry!
A baby will generally wake up hungry and crying for food with a short, low-pitched cry, just over a second in duration. If you don’t respond quickly, the cry becomes louder and more intense.

Respond to your baby as quickly as possible, especially in the first few months of life. You’re not going to spoil your baby by picking him up and feeding him right away. Tending to your baby’s hunger immediately teaches him that you’ll always be there to care for his needs.

The cry of pain/distress
This kind of cry comes on much more suddenly than a hunger cry. It’s about twice as long, and continuous – that is, it doesn’t rise and fall in pitch. Check for wet or soiled diaper. If that’s not it, check to see if baby is feeling too hot or too cold ( both can be distressing for a baby). Check your baby over from head to toe.

Tired and/or very sleepy
Between two and three months, your baby’s cries will become more varied, and he may develop a cranky, “tired” cry. “It may be a softer variation of pain cry. If your baby’s been awake for a couple hours, it’s more than likely you’re hearing a sleepy cry, so get your little one to bed by means of whichever rituals you may have for this.


In conclusion
Remember, you may think it’s difficult to handle a crying baby, but for the baby, it’s difficult too, for he is not able to give clear signals of what he wants or needs. And it doesn’t help that you may be bombarded with conflicting advice on how to deal with the situation. Listening and responding to a baby’s cries are skills that will be perfected as you and baby get to know each other better. In time, you’ll get the hang of this and will be better able to decipher the meaning of each cry and act accordingly.

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