It is perfectly normal for babies to cry and newborns usually cry between one and three hours per day. Your baby cries to communicate to you that she is need of something like food, comfort, warmth or a change of nappy. It can be tricky for parents to immediately know what their baby is crying for and especially for new parents who can become upset if they feel they are unable to soothe their baby quickly enough. If you are a new parent be assured that in time you will get used to when and why your baby is crying. As your infant develops she will learn to
communicate with you in other ways too such as smiling and making eye contact. These will be new ways to get your attention. If your baby is crying she may be trying to communicate to you:
• I am hungry!
• I want my nappy changed!
• I am too hot or I am too cold
• I want a cuddle!
• I am tired and I need some peace and quiet!
• I do not feel well (this could be colic)
As your baby’s personality develops you will get much better at assessing her needs. If you find that she is crying more than normal at any given time try the following to soothe her:
• Play a constant sound as this reminds her of listening to your heartbeat in the womb and calms her. You can purchase CDs that imitate the sounds she would have heard in your uterus. Sometimes the repetitive sound of a washing machine can send babies to sleep
• Sing lullabies and rock her as you try and coax her to sleep
• Use a rocking chair when you are cuddling her
• Take her for a walk in her pram or for a drive
• Baby massage can help soothe her and can help with colic as it can unblock gas
• Check with a health professional that you are feeding her correctly and in the best position
• Let her suck your breast, finger or a dummy as it can comfort her enormously by steadying her heart rate and relaxing her stomach
• A warm bath can help to sooth her although it unsettles some babies
You may find that you are trying virtually everything and feeling pretty exasperated that your efforts are not really helping that much. If this is the case, put your baby in her cot and let her cry for a bit and leave the room, it will not cause her any long lasting harm. Now breathe deeply. You may feel frustrated, rejected or that you are failing in some way but this is not your fault. You can try and relax to some soft music. It is important that you look after yourself as well as worrying about your baby’s needs. It is helpful sometimes to just accept that you have a baby that cries a lot. It is a phase and common with newborn babies, she will grow out of it. If you feel that you are struggling and need some help or support then do not think twice about seeking it through a health visitor, baby groups, family or friends. Your baby will stop crying so much in a bit of time and will soon find other ways to communicate.
By Eirian Hallinan