Sometimes all it takes to calm your baby down is a gentle touch or your calm voice. Other times, it may not be that easy. There will most likely be days when your baby does not seem to calm down no matter what you do.
Sleepiness, colic, or even fear may upset your baby. Ruling out obvious culprits (hunger or a dirty diaper) as well as the most common illness symptoms can help you realize why exactly your baby is crying. Also, there are some tips and tricks that may help you as well. These bits of advice will come in handy whether you are dealing with a colicky, fussy, or an unresponsive baby.
Why is Your Baby Crying?
Crying is a normal part of your baby’s life since it is its main way of communication. It is how your baby expresses its needs and captures your attention. It may be a bit difficult to interpret your little one’s cries in the beginning, but you will become much better at recognizing your child’s needs with time.
There are a lot of reasons your baby is crying. Some of the most common are:
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Dirty or wet diaper
- Colic, food allergies, or acid reflux
- Overstimulation due to activity or noise
- Illness or pain
- Fear, or stranger anxiety
Crying is what most babies use to communicate, and they will continue doing so until a parent responds to their needs. Other babies become upset instead of crying and fail to show emotion or tune out. If your baby is unresponsive, it may seem like a relief because you do not have to worry about calming it down. However, an unresponsive baby is not a good sign, so you should immediately contact your pediatrician to get the proper treatment.
Signals to Pay Attention to
Some babies enjoy being held, while others do not. Similarly, some babies cry because of a wet diaper, while others ignore it completely, continuing to play. Since there is no universal preference, you should pay special attention to what your baby likes. Figuring out what your baby needs is one of the most important things a parent can do. Try being attentive to:
Changes in mood. It is a good idea to see whether your baby’s mood coincides with the changes in the environment, a specific time of the day, or naps and food. For example, if your baby is not feeling well in the late morning, pay attention to certain signals such as eye rubbing or a single yawn.
Differences in cries. In the beginning, all of your baby’s cries will sound the same. Gradually, you will learn to differentiate among different types of cries. You should pay attention to pitch, noise level, and the intensity of the cry, as well as your baby’s facial expressions and body language.
Reactions to different environments and situations. Babies often send signals that we are unable to notice. If there are too many people around or there is an abrupt change in the schedule, your baby might get overstimulated.
Learning how to calm a crying baby may take bringing your awareness and perception skills to the highest level. You should not give up if you are having difficulties in discovering what exactly makes your baby cry because it will most likely keep trying to let you know.
What You Should Never Do
There are many ways you can calm a crying baby, but there is one thing you should never attempt. Do not shake your baby because it may hurt it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Shaken Baby Syndrome develops when a baby is shaken. Its blood vessels are still not strong enough, so they can break if its head is shaken.
Shaking can result in brain damage, mental retardation, blindness, seizures, or even death. Each year, around 1,000 babies die from Shaken Baby Syndrome. Shaking is usually caused by the parent’s frustration and anger. However, the good news is that SBS is 100% preventable. No matter how frustrating not being able to stop your baby from crying is, never try this method.
How to Soothe a Crying Baby
Firstly, you should rule out the obvious reasons your baby is crying (such as a dirty diaper or hunger). Besides, you should pay attention to any symptoms of illness, such as signs of pain, swollen gums, or runny nose and fever. If none of these things applies to your baby, you can try some of the following techniques:
Your little bundle will feel secure and cozy when wrapped with a blanket. According to experts, swaddling can help calm your baby down since it provides a womb-like feeling. Many parents opt for swaddling because it makes their babies sleep longer and with more ease. Some babies prefer their hands free so they can suck their fingers. Leaving your baby’s arms out of the swaddle is simple. You can do it by lowering the blanket at chin-level.
Babies can often soothe themselves by sucking their fingers. Even though they are not getting any nutrients, this activity calms their nerves. In case you do not know how to calm a crying baby, simply help it find its fist or fingers. Instead, you could offer it your finger. Pacifiers may also help, but it is a good idea to wait until the breastfeeding pattern is established before introducing it.
Use a Front-Pack Carrier
Using a carrier to walk around with your baby can be a great way to calm it down. Babies like the rhythm of your steps and the feeling of closeness. Another great benefit of the carrier is the fact that your hands remain free. This way you can multitask with ease. During the first three months, place your little one in a front-pack carrier facing you for more head support. If your baby does not enjoy that idea at first, do not give it up completely. Your baby might get used to it with time, however, never force anything.
Rock in a Chair
One of the great ways to soothe your baby is rocking it in a rocking chair. Nowadays, you can even purchase motorized baby swings, automatic cradles, or vibrating bouncy seats. In case you choose this option, you should follow the safety instructions to provide your baby with maximum security. Also, try not to let your baby get used to falling asleep like this because it might become dependent on the motion.
Try White Noise
Rhythmic whooshing sounds may help your babies calm down since they remind them of the womb. Blocking out the noises which startle your baby may be done with a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or a fan. Besides, you could try a special white noise machine. If none of those methods are available, you could always try calming your baby with shushing.
A cheesy 80s ballad or a classic lullaby may work for your baby even if you sing off-key. Next time you are wondering how to soothe a crying baby, sing whatever comes to your mind. The sound of your voice can work wonders and can develop an ever-stronger bond.
Try a Bath
Babies can be soothed with the help of warm water. Fill up the tub and watch your baby calm down. You could even go a step further and introduce some kind of aromatherapy. Adding a few drops of chamomile or lavender-infused soap may help both you and your baby relax.
Give a Massage
If you just cannot seem to realize how to soothe a crying baby, massaging your baby can help. It can calm your baby down and can serve as a relaxing ritual. There is no need to use special baby oils or lotions, though you can experiment with them. Your gentle touch is enough to make your baby feel secure.
- Stroke your baby’s chest outward from the center. Also, make small circles around its belly button.
- Roll your baby’s arms and legs between your hands. Take a turn with each limb.
- Unfurl its wrists and rub its fingers and palms.
- Uncurl its toes and gently massage the soles of its feet.
- If your baby doesn’t mind, you could turn it on its tummy and start stroking its back up and down, and then from side to side.
Try ’Colic Carry’’
In case you do not know how to calm a crying baby, you could try the ‘’colic carry’’. This method includes some pressure on your baby’s tummy which can help relieve colic and gas:
- Lay your baby on its tummy on your forearm, cradling its head. Stabilize it with your other hand and gently rub its back.
- Lay your baby across your lap, with one knee supporting her head and the other knee against its tummy.
- Hold it upright, placing her abdomen on your shoulder.
- Lay your baby on its back and then gently push its knees up to its tummy for about 10 seconds. Next, release and repeat the process.
What to Do if You Get Overwhelmed
You already know that no two babies are the same, but hearing about newborns that sleep peacefully may hit you hard. You should try to avoid comparison and certain expectations because doing so can create negative feelings. In case you are experiencing feelings you did not expect, take a break. It may take some time to connect with your baby, especially if it is a very challenging one. Do not ever worry, because all the hard work will be worth it in the end.
It may be helpful to develop certain strategies for those days when you cannot simply soothe your baby. If you are calm and composed, it will be much easier to deal with all the crying. You can try the following methods:
Recognize your limits. You should pay attention to the signs that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. The sooner you realize that, the easier it will be to deal with difficult situations. Taking a short break, asking for extra help, or simply a pep talk from your partner can make a big difference. Learning how to calm a crying baby is not among the easiest tasks out there, so do not be worried if you get stuck.
Remember that things will get better soon. When it comes to crying, most babies will reach their peak at week 6. After that, they will gradually calm down. Even though you may have to put extra effort at the moment, everyday life will get better.
Ask for help. It is a good idea to say yes when someone is offering help with meals, babysitting, or housework. There is nothing wrong about it, especially if your baby is difficult to deal with.
Realize that you do not have to be perfect. Being a parent is not about being perfect. It is impossible to be fully attentive and present, especially if your little one is constantly crying. According to experts, meeting your baby’s needs one-third of the time is just enough for a healthy bonding experience. Do not worry if you still haven’t realized how to soothe a crying baby. Instead, relax and try to enjoy the times when your baby is not crying.
Baby Planet Overview
There are many different reasons why your baby is crying. Sometimes it is pretty easy to solve the problem, but it is not always the case. It is a good idea to learn different techniques which can help your baby relax.
Realizing how to soothe a crying baby can save you a lot of energy. You should never get frustrated if your little seems to be crying all the time because this tough period will certainly be over soon. However, if you notice any strange behavior such as lack of interest or unresponsiveness, you should contact your pediatrician immediately.
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