WHY YOUR BABY CRIES…
Your baby's cry is his alert to you that he needs you to fix something he can't fix himself.
And even though he is very young and helpless, by fixing what has gone wrong, you are teaching his freash, new mind that when he feels uncomfortable, it's not going to last forever. By providing him with comfort, you are teaching him that problems can be solved. When you meet his needs, your baby learns that being uncomfortable doesn't last forever. This makes him feel secure and he is learning that he can cope with life. These are very important for his developing character.
THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF A BABY CRYING …
Babies cry because they have needs they cannot meet themselves. This usually means your baby is …
- hungry - needs more breast time
- tired - needs help settling and gently put down to sleep
- uncomfortable - has wind and needs burping, is wet or dirty, or is too cold or hot
- frightened - babies don't cope well with sudden noise or unexpected things happening
- feeling lonely - and needs to feel safe and secure in your arms
It could be a combination of these - but unless she's sick, that's about it. A man can fix all of these things - except front for breastfeeding.
When your baby cries, she might sound like she is in great pain. She's probably not. But she does need attention.
SOOTHING A CRYING BABY…
… A MAN CAN DO IT … AND IT'S IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK
Even when your baby is dry, full of milk and warm, there will be times when she is fussy and cries for "no reason". When this happens, parents often say it's colic. But it seldom is colic.
When your baby is crying for "no reason", remember there still is a reason - and that reason is not just to annoy you.
Put yourself in your baby's place - at a time when all his needs were met every second of every minute. He was never hungry, never cold and he always felt snug, safe and secure. This was what life was like before he was born: perfect. Can you blame him for wanting to feel like that again?
Well, you can comfort your baby and help him learn to stop cryng by doings things that make him feel like he felt before he was born …
• Wrapping – baby in a baby blanket firmly around the shoulders and arms (but not tight around the hips) with her arms against her chest (rather than down at her sides).
• Stomach or side – hold your baby on her stomach across your knee or securely on your forearm like a rugby ball. When she is upset she is will feel more secure on her tummy, even though she should be put down sleep on her back.
• Shushing – make "white noise" near her ear - a continuous, steady sound. It is very loud in the womb (as loud as a vacuum cleaner!) with mother's heart beating, blood rushing around her and air rushing in and out of her lungs.
• Jiggling – a continuous, small but firm movement. Your partner was seldom still when she was pregnant, especially in the later stages. Even when she was asleep she did a lot of moving, all of which was part of your baby's experience.
• Sucking – on her own hand or on your finger. Wait some weeks til she is breastfeeding well before introducing a dummy
Doing these for your baby makes her feel comforted - and they work a treat. A US paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp, identified these as ways of reminding your baby of the comfort of the womb. Your baby was held tightly in her mother's body and was constantly moving in the very loud environment. She had this warm, reassuring treatment 100% the time! It should be little surprise that it can take months for a baby to adjust to the outside world and NOT being held securely 24/7. And so it soothes her when you do things that remind her of the good old days.
You can find lots of YouTube clips of Dr Karp - which are mostly U.S. daytime TV talk shows. Even so, they explain the concepts and show how it's done. This clip is a pretty good one …
CRYING: WHAT DOESN’T WORK…
Shouting at baby won’t make her stop crying. Well, she may stop briefly (if she is momentarily frightened) but she will start up again – probably even worse. Babies freak-out when they experience violent voices or actions!
NEVER SHAKE A BABY
If you shake a baby enough to make her stop crying, you will have done her injury that she may never recover from, like…
- blindness by detaching the optic nerve from her eye
- brain damage from her brain rattling against the side of her skull
- paralysis by damaging or severing her spine or neck
We say it again: NEVER SHAKE A BABY!!!
IF YOU BEGIN TO LOSE IT AROUND A CRYING BABY …
… back-off, get some space,make some distance. If you feel you can't take it anymore and there’s no one there to take the baby, put her in a safe place and go into the next room or take yourself outside. Do some deep breathing. Breathing deep changes the chemistry in your brain and will help you get a grip.
Check baby every 5-10 minutes but do not pick your baby up until you have calmed down and are in control.
Remember, your baby doesn’t want to cry, it’s not a choice she’s made. If she's crying it's because she can’t help it. In fact, she probably feels worse than you do!
LEAVING HIM TO 'CRY HIMSELF OUT'…
… IS BAD FOR YOUR BABY
Myth: sometimes a baby just has to cry himself out. This is simply not true!
Leaving him to 'cry himself out' does not teach a young baby to toughen up. It teaches him that no one is there for him. When he cries and isn't soothed, he feels more and more out of control. A baby who is left to cry and cry learns that the world is a terrifying place.
A baby who works themself into a huge cry is flooded by the 'stress hormone' cortisol. This chemical increases his blood pressure and blood sugar. If he is regularly left to cry for long periods, this chemical interferes with his metabolism, weakens his immune system and interrupts his brain’s development.
Picking up and soothing a crying baby eases off cortisol production and lets him get back into a calm space. In calmness, his body functions normally and his brain carries on growing and ‘wiring’ itself.
Fact: A baby does NOT learn self-control or patience by being left to cry.
Fact: a baby learns how to sooth himself … from you. When you are patient and sooth him lovingly, your crying baby is learning how to reach that calm place on his own.