What Do I Do? If My Baby Won’t Stop Crying.
You can handle the sleepless nights and dirty diapers, but the crying can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. A crying baby who can’t easily be soothed puts a lot of stress on parents. You may worry that something is wrong with your child, that you’ll lose your cool, that your parenting skills aren’t up to the job, or that you’ll never connect with your baby. But you can handle it!
Did you know that babies actually have a Period of Purple Crying? This period of persistent crying can happen when a baby is between 2 weeks to 3-4 months and is often mistaken as colic when, in fact, it’s just a normal, yet brain numbing, part of a baby’s development. Thankfully, as your baby gets older, he’ll be better able to soothe himself and much of the crying will stop.
In the meantime, try to remember that you are not the cause of your infant’s crying. No two babies are alike: try to avoid comparisons with and specific expectations, as they can create negative feelings—especially if you have a very challenging baby. Give yourself a break if you are having feelings you didn’t expect. It may take a bit of time to get in sync with your baby, but the extra work will be worth it! Sometimes, simply accepting that you have a baby who cries a lot can help. Give these tips and techniques a try to soothe your baby when their cries seem never-ending:
Check all of your baby’s physical cues. Check your baby’s temperature for fever, change their diaper if it needs changing, burp them, or feed your baby if it’s been a while between feedings.
Skin-to-skin contact. Placing your baby (with only a diaper on) directly on your chest, skin to skin, can help to calm their cries and ease any stress your baby may be experiencing.
Swaddle your baby. Wrap your baby snugly in a blanket. Swaddling can often help a baby feel safe and secure, which may lead to fewer tears.
Move with your baby. During a long crying spell, try holding your baby while walking, rocking, or swaying.
Give your baby a warm bath. If bath time is typically a soothing experience for your baby, try bathing them in lukewarm water when they are upset.
Give your baby something to suck on. Sucking can steady a baby’s heart rate, relax his stomach, and calm flailing limbs. Offer a pacifier or a finger to clamp onto and let your baby go to town.
White noise machine. Many babies are calmed by a steady flow of “white noise” that blocks out other noises – much like the constant whoosh of bodily sounds they heard in the womb.
Get outdoors with your baby. Sometimes a combination of a change of scenery and fresh air can help calm a baby when they are crying. Go for a walk or sit on a blanket.
Recognize your limits. If you’ve met your baby’s immediate needs but find that the soothing techniques are not easing your baby’s cries, and you’re reaching your limit, set your baby down in a safe place and let him cry for a while. Take this time to calm down before returning to your baby and repeating the techniques above.
The amount of time you need to calm down before returning to your baby will depend on you. It may only take a few minutes, but it can also require you to step away for longer. Reach out to your partner, family member, or other trusted caregiver for support. Ask them for advice, a quick pep talk or to take over for a while.
If you’re feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and angry, it’s important to assess your needs and find ways to care for yourself. Self-care is a critical component of parenting that often gets neglected. Taking care of your health means you will be in a better position to care for your baby. Put on quiet music to distract yourself, take deep breaths, and remind yourself that crying in itself won’t hurt your baby – and he may just need the release. Find a mantra– with a crying baby, you may find yourself talking out loud anyway, and a mantra can help provide perspective, comfort, and energy to keep going. Some examples might be: “Just breathe,” “This is hard, but doable,” and “All will be well.”
Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet, getting enough rest, exercising regularly, spending time outside of the house, socializing with other people, or doing other activities that feed your body, mind, and soul.
For most babies, crying peaks at six weeks and then gradually eases off. There is an end to the crying on the horizon! You may have to put in a little extra work right now and be very patient, but things will get better.