By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns
In my previous post we covered all the typical reasons that babies cry and what to do about those. However there are times when you’ve gone through the whole list of ideas but you still can’t figure out why your baby is crying. Here’s what to do to calm your baby no matter what the reason for the tears.
What is you can’t tell the source of crying?
There are times when you can’t tell if your baby’s crying is directly related to a fixable situation. That’s when parents get frustrated and nervous. It’s when you should take a deep breath, calm yourself and try some of the following cry-stoppers:
Hold your baby: No matter the reason for your baby’s cry, being held by a warm and comforting person offers a feeling of security and may calm his crying. Babies love to be held in arms, slings, front-pack carriers, and (when they get a little older) backpacks; physical contact is what they seek and what usually soothes them best.
Provide motion: Babies enjoy repetitive, rhythmic motion such as rocking, swinging, swaying, jiggling, dancing, or a drive in the car. Many parents instinctually begin to sway with a fussy baby, and for a good reason: It works.
Turn on some white noise: The womb was a very noisy place. Remember the sounds you heard on the Doppler stethoscope? Not so long ago, your baby heard those 24 hours a day. Therefore, your baby sometimes can be calmed by “white noise,” that is, noise that is continuous and uniform, such as that of a heartbeat, ocean waves, or the rain. There are many devices and apps that offer white noise for babies.
Let music soothe your baby: Soft, peaceful music is a wonderful baby calmer. That’s why lullabies have been passed down through the ages. You don’t have to be a professional singer to provide your baby with a song; your baby loves to hear your voice. In addition to your own songs, babies usually love to hear any kind of music. Experiment with different types of tunes, since babies have their own favorites that can range from jazz to country to classical, and even rock and rap.
Swaddle your baby: During the first three or four months of life, many babies feel comforted if you can re-create the tightly contained sensation they enjoyed in the womb.
Massage your baby: Babies love to be touched and stroked, so a massage is a wonderful way to calm a fussy baby. A variation of massage is the baby pat; many babies love a gentle, rhythmic pat on their backs or bottoms.
Let your baby have something to suck on: A bottle, pacifier, Baby’s own fingers, a teething toy, or Daddy’s freshly washed pinkie can work wonders as a means of comfort. And of course, the best secret weapon of all, breastfeeding, which can’t be overdone, so feel free to nurse anytime you want to comfort your crying baby.
Distract your baby: Sometimes a new activity or change of scenery can help. A walk outside, a dance with a song, or a splashy bath can be very helpful in turning a fussy baby into a happy one.
Reading your baby’s body language
Many times, you can avoid the crying altogether by responding right away to your baby’s earliest signals of need, such as fussing, stiffening her body, or rooting for milk. As you get to know your baby and learn her signals, determining what she needs will become easier for you, and you’ll catch her mood even before she cries.
Nothing helps! What if it’s colic?
If your baby cries inconsolably for long periods every day, particularly at the same time each day, he may have colic. Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories; colic is among the most difficult and exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age. Any of the ideas can help lesson the crying of colic. We’ll be covering colic in detail in the next blog post. If your baby hasn’t arrived yet, or is newly born, read this now so that you can be prepared if it happens.
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps moms and dads through all key stages of parenting