Staying calm when you have a crying baby is harder than it sounds. The early days, weeks, and months after your baby is born, can be filled with tension, and strong emotions make tempers run high. Some parents might find it overwhelming when they are desperately trying to comfort their little one but can’t no matter how hard they try.
However, it is crucial to take care of yourself during these tough times. When you stay calm, it becomes easier and can help you soothe your crying baby too. Remember, crying is normal for babies and they cry for different reasons. To lower your stress levels and handle your baby’s crying and your own tears, it’ll be helpful to learn to remain patient.
Parents often struggle to calm down and put a crying baby to sleep quickly, especially when they themselves are tired and sleep-deprived. However, it is heartening to know that a group of scientists from Japan claim to have discovered an effective method for what to do when your baby is crying in just a few minutes!
Researchers from the RIKEN Centre for Brain Science in Saitama, Japan, suggest that taking a five-minute walk while carrying the baby can promote sleep even during the daytime. They recommend that parents attach the baby snugly to their bodies, supporting the baby’s head, and walk for five minutes on a flat and clear path at a steady pace, avoiding sudden jerks, stops or turns.
They advise that parents continue holding the baby for an additional five to eight minutes after the baby has fallen asleep before laying them down in their crib. This practice can help reduce the chances of the baby waking up again.
Published in the Current Biology journal, the study found that babies who were put down too soon after falling asleep in their mother’s arms were more likely to wake up and start crying again. The researchers noted that the act of the mother detaching from the baby during the laying down process consistently disturbed and woke up the sleeping baby.
During the study, the team tested four techniques on 21 babies aged zero to seven months, and figured out what to do when your baby is crying. These techniques included laying the babies in a crib, rocking them in a stroller, carrying them for a walk, and holding them while sitting down. The researchers concluded that the most effective method to calm a baby and help them fall asleep is to follow a “five-minute carrying, five to eight-minute sitting” routine.
After a five-minute walk while being held, 45.5% of the babies (five out of 11) were asleep, and none of the 11 infants were crying by the end of the task. The researchers emphasized the importance of waiting an additional five to eight minutes before laying the baby down after they have fallen asleep. This delay minimized the likelihood of the baby waking up again.
The recommended methods, do not address long-term sleep improvement but have been found to be helpful for immediately calming and how to soothe a crying baby in situations where regular sleep routines, breastfeeding, or pacifiers were not effective or available.
There is no getting around a baby crying
Primarily, fussy babies cry frequently as a means of communicating hunger, pain, fear, and tiredness. Decoding your baby’s crying sessions is challenging, especially if you happen to be a first-time parent.
However, there are ways to comfort and soothe a crying baby regardless of the reason for her distress.
Hunger: This is often the first thing to consider when your baby cries. Here is what to do with a fussy baby. Recognizing hunger signs, such as fussing, lip-smacking, and hand-to-mouth gestures, can help you feed your baby before she becomes too upset.
Stomach problems: Colic and gas can cause significant discomfort and result in excessive crying. Colic is characterized by inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, three days a week, for at least three weeks. Anti-gas drops or gripe water can sometimes provide relief and can help soothe a colicky baby, but consult your doctor before using them. Gentle leg movements, like bicycling their legs, can help alleviate gas pain.
Burping: While not mandatory, one way to effectively stop a baby crying after breastfeeding is by making her burp. Carrying around the baby after feeding helps release swallowed air, reducing discomfort. Some babies are more bothered by air in their stomachs than others, so burping can provide immediate relief.
Dirty diaper: Some babies quickly express their discomfort when their diaper needs changing. Checking and changing their diaper regularly can help prevent this cause of crying. Changing into a clean and dry diaper before the baby turns in for the night can ensure a restful night for your baby and for you.
Sleep needs: Babies may struggle to fall asleep when tired, resulting in fussiness and crying, especially when overtired. So what to do with a fussy baby? Learning to recognize signs of tiredness, like yawning, and responding promptly by attempting to get the baby ready for sleep can help alleviate their distress.
Need for cuddling: Babies crave physical closeness and reassurance. Holding them close, talking to them in a soft voice, and maintaining skin-to-skin contact can comfort them when they cry. There is nothing like the warmth of a mother’s skin, it works like magic!
Temperature discomfort: Babies may cry if they feel too cold or too hot. Ensuring they are appropriately dressed and maintaining a comfortable temperature can help prevent discomfort-related crying.
Pain or discomfort: Fussy babies cry due to subtle sources of pain or discomfort that are difficult to notice. This can include things like scratchy clothing tags, or uncomfortable positions. Careful observation and addressing potential sources of discomfort can help soothe your baby. Always ensure that the baby is sleeping on her back.
Teething pain: Teething can cause pain as new teeth emerge, making the gums tender. Babies may become fussy and tearful during this process. Checking their gums for emerging teeth and providing appropriate remedies can help ease the discomfort.
Overstimulation or under stimulation: Babies may cry when they feel overwhelmed by excessive sensory stimulation or when they need more engagement and activity. Finding a quiet spot for relaxation or providing stimulating experiences can help address their specific needs.
Illness: If your baby continues to cry despite having her basic needs met and being comforted, she could be unwell. Checking her temperature for fever and watching out for other signs of illness is advisable. Trust your instincts and seek medical advice if you feel something is not right.
Understanding the reasons behind your baby’s crying spells can assist you in providing appropriate care and comfort.
Effective strategies to comfort your crying baby
After having checked all the basic needs: a full tummy, a clean diaper, and no fever. Yet, your baby continues to cry, this is likely to leave you confused if not helpless. While babies have their reasons for crying, they lack the ability to communicate their needs.
As a new parent, it’ll be challenging to decipher their unspoken messages. However, there are still ways to provide comfort to your baby, even without knowing the exact cause of their distress. Try these proven methods:
- Give your baby something to suck on. Sucking can regulate your baby’s heart rate, relax their stomach, and soothe their restless limbs. Offer a pacifier or your clean finger for them to suck on and experience the calming effects.
- Snuggling & swaddling can come in very handy. Newborns crave the warmth and security they felt in the womb. Recreate this sensation by swaddling your baby in a soft blanket, carry them against your body, or hold them close to your shoulder.
- Music is soothing and your baby may just love to hear it. Engage your baby with music by playing gentle tunes, singing lullabies, or even dancing around the room. Experiment with different genres to discover what resonates with your little one.
- White noise has an awesome power to calm your baby. Although the hum of a vacuum cleaner may not sound soothing to you, many babies find comfort in a steady stream of “white noise” that muffles other sounds. It mimics the constant, soothing noises your baby once heard while still in the womb.
- Fresh air acts as an energizer on a baby. Most of the time, just stepping outside with your baby can instantly halt her crying. Take advantage of this moment and embrace the environment. Look around, gaze at the sky, and engage your baby in a conversation about the world around her.
- Warm water will induce a pleasant sensation in a baby. Similar to fresh air, warm water has a calming effect. Consider holding your baby under a gently running shower if you feel that your baby will enjoy it. However, ensure the shower area is slip-proof and avoid persisting if your baby shows signs of discomfort.
- Motion can lull a baby to sleep. The gentle movements of being carried in your arms or in a carrier can provide sufficient comfort for your baby. Other options for motion include a rocking chair, swing, or a bouncy seat. Placing your baby in a car seat and going out for a short drive can be a stimulating experience for your baby.
- Massage is a stimulating way to soothe an agitated baby. Babies generally love a gentle touch, making a massage a potential source of comfort. Don’t worry about having perfect techniques; as long as your touches are tender and unhurried, they provide a sense of reassurance.
By deploying these strategies, you can increase your chances of comforting your crying baby, even when you’re uncertain about the underlying cause of their distress.
What to do if you feel overwhelmed
If you feel you have reached your limits or are feeling overwhelmingly stretched, just remember, you really don’t have to go through this on your own. remember, self-care is crucial for your well-being too.
It’s common for first-time parents to feel exhausted, or even frustrated when dealing with a crying baby. However, taking care of yourself is not selfish but rather a necessary step in being a patient and loving parent.
Prioritize activities that help you relax and recharge, whether it’s taking short breaks, engaging in hobbies, or seeking emotional support from loved ones. Reach out to your partner, family members, or trusted friends for assistance.
They can offer a helping hand or provide a listening ear when you need to vent or take a breather. Sharing the responsibility and seeking support will alleviate the stress and create a more positive environment for both you and your baby.
This is also a good time to educate yourself about soothing techniques and strategies that can help calm your baby. Experiment with different methods such as gentle rocking, swaddling, singing, or playing soothing music.
Remind yourself that this phase will also pass. Babies grow and develop rapidly, and before you know it, they will become more independent and better able to communicate their needs. Take solace in the fact that your love, care, and presence are invaluable to your baby’s well-being, even during these challenging moments.
Take comfort in knowing that brighter and calmer days are on the horizon. As your baby grows older, she will naturally develop coping mechanisms and self-soothing techniques, reducing the frequency and intensity of her crying. It will be comforting to know that you and your baby will both find more peace and tranquillity.
Never, ever shake a baby violently
Babies have weak neck muscles and fragile blood vessels in their brains that are not yet fully developed. The impact of shaking can cause these blood vessels to rupture, resulting in bleeding
within the brain. This bleeding can lead to a range of injuries, including brain damage, mental retardation, seizures, or even blindness.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), is a severe form of child abuse that occurs when a baby is forcefully shaken. It is a highly dangerous and harmful act that can have devastating consequences.
The injuries sustained from shaking a baby violently are often severe and can result in permanent disabilities or even death. Such incidents typically occur when parents or caregivers become overwhelmed, and frustrated, particularly when they are unable to soothe or calm a crying baby.
CAUTION: It is crucial for parents to understand that shaking a baby is never an appropriate or safe response to frustration or anger.
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