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How to Soothe a Crying Baby

Every parent has been there. Wondering what went horribly wrong when a once sleeping beauty turns into a screaming force to be reckoned with is enough to rattle the nerves of even the most experienced care giver. My mother used to say, “Birds fly and babies cry.” She wasn’t kidding. Understanding the normalcy of a crying baby is the first step to soothing the baby.

Babies cry. It is the only form of communication they have mastered at an infant stage of life. The first step in calming the baby is to be a calm parent. An infant cries to get our attention so that we can fulfill a need, whatever it may be at that particular time. If the parent is frantic those feelings will be felt by the baby and probably cause more crying. A relaxed and collected parent will most likely be able to recognize the baby’s need and calm the baby quicker.

There is a process of elimination that may be used in recognizing the source of the baby’s distress. The usual suspects are as follows: soiled diaper, hunger and the need to simply be held. Babies often swallow air while crying so holding the infant while rubbing its back gently may loosen a trapped air pocket and bring the baby instant comfort while also giving the baby some snuggle time. If by chance the little one should drift off to sleep while being held, congratulations and problem solved.

If not, check for a soiled diaper. The baby should be relatively calm by now but may not like the fact that its diaper is being changed. This is the time to speak very softly and even sing whatever song comes to mind in a very soft and gentle tone. Speaking softly to the baby and singing are great ways to create a distraction from whatever is bothering the infant and keep the parent relaxed at the same time. It is so important for the parent to maintain a relaxed demeanor during this time. Babies feed off of their care givers feelings. A relaxed parent equals a relaxed baby as well as a frustrated and frantic parent will result in an unsettled and upset baby.

While changing the diaper, watch for signs that the infant may be hungry. Possible signs of hunger are opening and closing the mouth and sucking on lips, tongue and fingers. By this time even if the infant wasn’t hungry when the crying started, it may very well be ready for a feeding now. After feeding the baby another diaper check may be in order before putting the infant back down to sleep. Better to check than not to.

There are still the times that an infant just wants to be in the arms of its parent. This too can be a tricky task. To swaddle or not to swaddle depends completely on the individual baby. Some babies prefer being held in a rocking chair to be lulled to sleep and some need the parent to be standing and walking around. Very few will be satisfied with a stationary parent. The movement itself is comforting. Now, if lullaby lyrics are long forgotten, time to brush up on the family favorites. The baby may also respond more to one song than another. Repeating the infant’s favorites is a great way to establish a sense of calm between the parent and the infant.

Please note that if at any time a medical issue is thought to be the source of the baby’s crying, a call to the pediatrician is in order.

With that said, enjoy the new arrival. The baby’s first days and weeks may seem overwhelming, but they do pass quickly. Being calm and collected through the frustrating times will allow for more of the gentle and loving moments between baby and parent.

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