It’s My Party and I Cry If I Want To

crying newbornYou’re home from the hospital. Maybe a few weeks go by of fairly smooth sailing, and then it happens. The baby starts crying, and nothing you do will soothe the little one. These crying marathons might go on through (what seems like) most of the day or night, or it might happen around the same time each day. You feel frustrated, irritated, sleep deprived and, start questioning your ability to parent.

Where to Start

People, even newborns, are all different. What works for one baby, doesn’t necessarily work for another. So this is one of many times we have to try different tactics to find one that works. The first item to check off the list is whether or not the little one is hungry. Even if you just fed him, it might be that he is going through a growth spurt and needs more food than usual. Also make sure to burp him once more. Trapped air can cause a lot of pain, especially if he didn’t burp halfway through the feeding.

If he isn’t interested in food, he is burped, and the diaper is checked, your baby is most likely suffering from colic. If you are breastfeeding, he might be reacting to something you ate the night before. That’s good to know but doesn’t help at the very moment you are standing there with the town crier in your arms. So let’s look at a few more ways you can help your baby feel comfortable:

Lay your little one on his stomach. Place your open hand underneath his stomach, with your palm facing up. Gently pat your baby’s bottom with your other hand. The pressure, the warmth of your hand, and the rhythmic patting helps sooth many crying babies. Remember never to let your baby fall asleep on his stomach, so make sure to turn the baby over once he calms down.

Still Crying?

If the baby still hasn’t calmed down, place your baby over your shoulder high enough so that the baby’s stomach rests on your shoulder. Move your upper body back and forth in short movements. The pressure on the baby’s stomach and the rocking movement are both helpful in alleviating stomach pains.

If you tried all of the above for a few minutes each, and the crying doesn’t die down, try this carrying technique: Lay the baby on his stomach over your lower inner arm with his head in the fold of your arm and his diaper area resting in the palm of that hand. The baby will be laying with his right arm and leg dangling on one side of your arm and his left arm and leg dangling on the other side (like a panther on a tree limb). The baby’s face will be turned to the side facing out, away from your body (You want him to be able to breathe!) Hold the baby close to your body to keep him secure. Rock your body from side to side. Having the top of the baby’s head touch your bicep (or your flabby upper arm if you exercise like me) makes many babies feel secure. By holding the baby like this, and gently rocking him, the weight of the baby against your arm will create some pressure on his stomach, alleviating pain.

Another way to alleviate colic (and tummy aches in older kids) is to lay your baby on his back, and gently tuck his legs towards his stomach with his knees bent. Hold this tucked position for a while and see if the situation improves.

If all of these methods fail to calm the baby, give the baby a relaxing bath, (click here for more on bathing a newborn) and then try to feed him once again. He may not have been hungry at first, but might be ready to eat after all that crying.

It’s always a good idea to check with your pediatrician if you’re worried about your baby crying, if for no other reason than to feel better yourself. After a few weeks, what began suddenly will usually stop just as abruptly. When this happens, enjoy the quiet– and reward yourself. You managed to get through the first big challenge of parenthood.