By now, you’ve realized that despite all the websites, books, expert advice and mother-in-law suggestions, your baby does not come with her own Instruction Manual. Add to that, your child has one primary way of communicating with you at this point and that’s crying. Whether she’s hungry, hurt, sick or bored, it’s all still crying. As Mom, you’ve got the dubious honor of trying to translate what her cries mean. Plus, a typical newborn cries 2-3 hours a day! “Why is my baby crying?,” you ask. Don’t worry – we know a thing or two about baby cries and we’re here to help!!
The Top 3
You’ve heard it before – a newborn basically sleeps, eats and poops/pees. So, if your baby is crying, there is a good chance that she is hungry, tired or needs a diaper change. As a new mom, you are probably feeding your little one every 2-3 hours, so when your baby cries, check the clock and see if she’s close to feeding time. Often, an infant will give signs as she’s starting to get hungry such as sucking, lip smacking and trying to suck on her hand or put it in her mouth. These are all early signals that she’s getting hungry, so you can often fend off the cries by feeding her when you see the signs.
Sleep, beautiful sleep. You may feel that you’re the only one in your household not getting sleep, but for newborns and babies, sleep is still somewhat of a mystery. Babies are often not in a good routine or sleep rhythm and they don’t have a developed ability to self-soothe. If your baby starts getting fussy and it’s close to naptime or bedtime, here are a few tips that can help her get to sleep more easily.
- Swaddling: There is nothing like being wrapped up like a burrito to make a baby feel safe, secure and off to dreamland.
- Music: The sound of your voice, via a lullaby, or soothing music can be helpful in putting your baby to sleep. Likewise, a white noise like a fan might help.
- Movement: Rocking your baby, going for a walk or riding in the car may help your little one sleep.
The bottom line is that if your baby is tired, she needs to sleep, so don’t worry about schedules or routines. Let her get some rest.
Last but not least, the lovely topic of diapers! Some babies can sit in a soiled diaper all day and not say a peep (not that you want this against their skin, causing a rash). Others, however, are very sensitive and want to be changed immediately. You hopefully have an idea of when your baby needs changing, based on her eating habits, but when your little one’s crying, checking her diaper is always a good move and an easy fix to quiet her down.
Babies have a very delicate digestive system, so that could be the cause of crying. Some babies get reflux, others might cry if they need to burp or feel too full; still others have colic and that will always lead to an uncomfortable, crying baby. So, what should you do?
- Try to burp your child. Gently lay her on your shoulder or on her tummy on your lap and gently pat or rub your child’s back.
- Get the gas out. If a baby is crying and arching her back, wriggling around or moving her legs, she might have a gas bubble. The easiest thing to do? Put her on her stomach, over your legs. Or, lay her on her left side, over your lap and bicycle her legs or push them into her chest. This should help relieve her tummy troubles.
- Colic: If your little one is colicky, you’ll get used to the cries as they typically cry about 3 hours a day, seemingly for no reason. The good news is that colic doesn’t last long and babies typically grow out of it by 3 or 4 months. The bad news is that the crying will persist until then. To soothe your little one, you can rock or walk with your baby, run the vacuum cleaner to lull her to sleep, give her a pacifier to soothe her, or sometimes, just get away from it by putting your baby safely down. If your baby is colicky, it’s also good to talk with your doctor and get his/her recommendation on what to do.
For a baby, being emotional can include feeling lonely or overstimulated. Typically, patting or rubbing a baby’s back can help. Or, you might want to rock or walk with your child to calm and comfort them, letting them know you’re there.
Sick or Uncomfortable
We’ve already mentioned that most babies don’t like to sit in a dirty diaper, but sometimes your little one cries because she’s uncomfortable – something she’s wearing may be irritating her, she’s teething or else she’s cold or hot, she could be experiencing allergies. On that note, she could be sick or coming down with something. Always do what you can and check to make sure everything – food, diaper, sleep –is in order. If other signs such as fever, vomiting, rash appear, or if the crying persists and she’s crying harder or longer than normal, check with your doctor. It’s not your fault and it’s not her fault – just remember she has one voice at this point in her life and it’s a cry!
Parenting a baby is full of mystery – she can’t tell you what she needs and you can’t ask her. As a parent, you need to rely on your mom instincts, knowledge of your baby, some trial-and-error as well as input from trusted members of your circle. That, along with these tips, will help you translate what your child needs. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call an expert such as your pediatrician. They may have heard it a million times before, but it’s new for you – and they are there to help!
Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 28). Crying Baby: What to Do when your Newborn Cries. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20043859
Perry, C. (2017, December). 11 Reasons Why Babies Cry – And How to Soothe Their Tears. Retrieved from https://www.thebump.com/a/why-do-babies-cry
WebMD Medical Reference. (Reviewed 2019, February 22). Why is My Baby Crying? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/why-baby-cries#1