Whether you are a first time mother or have just had your third child, there is nothing more distressing than hearing a newborn baby crying for an extended period of time. Not only can this sound make you feel inadequate, but it can also make it impossible to perform daily necessities such as sleeping. Fortunately, scientific and anecdotal evidence have combined to offer proven techniques for soothing a cranky baby. Keep in mind that if these tips do not work, it is a good idea to visit a doctor to determine if something medical is at fault for your newborn’s discomfort.
1. A Tired Baby Is A Cranky Baby
One of the primary reasons that babies cry is because they are overly tired and need to take a nap. This can happen as a result of being overstimulated by too much activity or attention. Alternatively, their sleep schedule may not be properly regulated yet, especially if they are more than six weeks old. In fact, experts indicate that you need to begin sleep training at the six week mark if you want your infant to be well-rested. Failure to develop an adequate sleep routine can lead to an exorbitant amount of crying, both now and as they get older. Therefore, the best way to soothe this particular problem is by putting them down for scheduled naps.
2. A Baby Crying Frequently May Be So Hungry They Have Become Hangry
Studies have found that people of any age who are hungry are less likely to be happy, and their impatience and anger spikes alongside their hunger. For example, judges make fewer favorable rulings as they get closer to lunchtime, which highlights the detrimental impact of becoming hangry. This happens despite the fact that adults understand how hunger works, so imagine what it is like for a baby to experience increasing levels of hunger without any relief. With this in mind, it is important to offer your newborn the opportunity to nurse or drink formula when they start crying. This is particularly important if they do not tend to finish each meal and instead ask for smaller but more frequent feedings.
3. Babies Cry When They Are Feeling Under The Weather
If your baby has eaten and slept recently, their cries could be an indicator that something is physically wrong. In some cases, this is nothing more than teething, but you should keep an eye out for symptoms such as constipation, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Experts recommend seeking medical assistance for any baby under three months who has a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. As your child moves past the newborn stage, they will be better equipped to deal with a fever up to 104 degrees without needing medical attention. You can place a cool damp cloth on their forehead to help reduce their fever and make them feel more relaxed.
4. Their Diaper Needs To Be Changed
Aside from food and sleep, a dirty diaper is by far the most common reason that a baby will cry. The easiest way to soothe this problem is by paying close attention to your baby’s signals so that you can change their diaper right away. Do not forget that diaper rash can develop if you wait too long, and this will cause your baby to feel additional distress. You can use lotions and creams that contain petroleum jelly or zinc oxide to help soothe and prevent diaper rash, and it is also a good idea to let a child with a rash go diaper-free for a while after each bowel movement.
5. Colic And Other Stomach Problems Make A Baby Miserable
A crying baby who does not appear to have any reason to feel upset could be trying to clue you in to some stomach issues. Colic is well-known to cause babies to cry practically non-stop for an extended period of time, but this is not the only type of stomach problem that can lead to this type of behavior. Abdominal pain can be brought on by colic, gas, constipation, acid reflux, an intestinal blockage, lactose intolerance, a stomach virus or a milk allergy.
Be sure to pay close attention to whether or not your baby cries a lot after eating, and note any patterns such as an unusual amount of crying after having something specific. If you suspect that they are suffering from gas, you can do a light abdominal massage or move their legs in a bicycle motion while they are lying on their back. This should help them pass the gas, which will make them happy enough to stop crying. A potential allergy can be diagnosed with the assistance of your family pediatrician.
6. They Simply Need To Be Held
No matter what some people might say about spoiling your baby by holding them too often, research indicates that this is not actually possible. In fact, humans of all ages need regular attention and physical contact for good mental health. Your baby will not begin noticing cause and effect patterns until they are at least six months old, so go ahead and lavish attention on them during the newborn stage because this will help instead of hinder them later in life. As an added bonus, being held will typically soothe babies enough for them to stop crying.
7. The Temperature Is Uncomfortable
If you feel too hot or cold, you can walk over to the thermostat and adjust it. However, a baby is at the mercy of their environment and can feel miserable if they are overheated or chilled. To check for this possibility, you should feel your baby’s stomach. If it seems hot or cold, make the necessary adjustments. Alternatively, you can rely on new technology such as an electronic patch to monitor their body temperature so that they do not even need to get the point of crying before you become aware that a thermostat change is needed. You will also want to keep your baby’s room at approximately 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) while they are sleeping. In most cases, babies will feel comfortable wearing only one more layer of clothing than adults, so do not overdo it.
8. Something Minor Is Troubling Them
Very minor inconveniences that most adults can merely ignore could cause your baby to become extremely unhappy. A prime example is that some babies will cry because of a clothing tag, the amount of light in the room or the type of fabric that they are wearing. Additionally, a common problem is getting a single hair wrapped too tightly around a finger or toe. To an adult, this would not be a very big deal, but to a baby, it can actually cut off their circulation. Look for any small things that could be bothering your baby, and take corrective action to help soothe away their tears.
No parent will ever be able to magically relax their baby on the first try every single time they cry, but learning how to utilize all of the previously listed techniques should definitely be on your must-know list. After all, having these tips at your arsenal should make it easier to identify and soothe your baby’s sudden bursts of unhappiness as they occur.
Featured photo credit: Morgan via flic.kr