Why babies cry?
All babies cry from time to time, that’s how they communicate their needs. Sometimes when you try to respond to their needs they still seem fussy and nothing seems to be helping them to calm down. This can be very distressing to parents, leaving them feeling hopeless and frustrated. You might feel something is wrong with your baby or worse that you’re doing something wrong as a parent. It can really undermine your confidence as a parent.
It’s not easy for new parents to distinguish different types of crying and what your baby is trying to communicate to you. One thing to remember is that your baby isn’t trying to manipulate you, they don’t cry without reason. Sometimes it will take a while to figure out what makes them upset and uncomfortable.
Should I offer the breast when my baby is crying?
Absolutely, it will not overfeed your baby. In fact, breastfeeding might be the easiest way of calming a fussy baby. Breastfeeding is so much more than just nutrition. Many babies tend to go through a fussy period in the evening; it intensifies around 2-3 months of age. They feed and fuss for hours before the longer stretch of sleep at night and this is a normal occurrence. Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t going to help, or your baby is too upset to breastfeed. What else can you try to do to calm your fussy baby?
The colic hold
If only there was a magic tool to stop this crying and to help your baby relax… Well, my favorite go to trick is the colic hold. I’m not sure who first discovered this but I know it helped to calm my children when they were babies and it has helped many parents I worked with. (It works best for babies up to 6 months) Next time you have a difficult time calming your baby, try holding him on your forearm, tummy down. Gently rock them up and down or front and back. You can try folding his hands to the middle of his body and gently moving his hips. Putting pressure on your infant’s tummy can alleviate some tummy discomfort and reflux.
Researchers also believe that holding and moving with an infant younger than 6 months calms them down, due to their inner reflex to not interfere with a parent fighting or running away from danger. That might explain why we see babies fussing as soon as we sit down, so take your baby for a walk, use your baby carrier, gently bounce on a exercise ball or a trampoline.
What else can you try? We know sounds can be particular helpful in calming a fussy baby so try singing to your baby, or use vibrating, shushing sounds that remind your baby of the womb like this video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY_HcSBzPN0
Some babies will respond to sounds of running water, sounds of a washer drier or air conditioner. Talk to your baby in a calm voice, tell them about your surroundings and people in your life, read to them. It can feel silly at first, but with time it can make you and your child calmer and help you connect with your baby.
If you think your baby might be overstimulated you can try good old skin to skin, dimming the lights, baby massage or taking a warm bath with your little one. Reach out for support, find a group, don’t be in the thick of it alone. Just as your baby needs you to hold, love and support them you need someone to hold, love and support you. Carrying for a fussy baby is one of the most challenging parts of motherhood.
“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”