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As a new parent, I can remember struggling to figure out how to calm my crying baby. Case in point:
I can remember driving down the road at 5 am weary eyed and tired with a young baby finally asleep in her car seat. She had been crying and hadn’t slept for most of the night, as I think she was teething at the time. As a parent, it was a trial and error process to try to figure out how to best soothe our crying baby. My husband even tried sitting our baby on the seat of his motorcycle while it was running (with his hands on her, of course). She fell asleep! And even other times, it seemed that we had to sit in some strange positions for her to stop crying. For example, my crying baby calmed down when I put her in a “hole” that I made as I sat crossed legged. However, once she was calm and asleep, it was a gamble if I had to move, itch, or go to the bathroom!
Why do babies cry?
Crying is universal in babies and serves as a way to communicate with caregivers. For example, crying is a way to express an unpleasant feeling such as pain, anger, or hunger. Caregivers typically respond to the crying by trying to soothe them, feed them, or something else. Parents can eventually distinguish among different types of cries such as a hunger or pain cry.
How can we soothe a baby?
Contrary to what some believe, you will never spoil a baby by picking him or her up and trying to soothe them. The idea behind this is that it will “reinforce” the crying and will make it difficult for the baby to self-soothe. According to an article by the Guardian, leaving a baby to cry can cause brain damage. Excessive amounts of cortisol (a stress hormone that is released when a baby is crying) are toxic to the brain.
Strategies for Soothing a Crying Baby
1.Skin to skin physical contact
2.Sucking a pacifier or even a sweet solution
3.Patting, caressing, or rocking the baby
4.Swaddling the baby
5.Speaking softly (or even singing softly)
6.Offer a bottle
7.Change the diaper
8.Wear your baby in a front baby carrier: I would do this with my baby, but I would go for a walk with her outside. You could also do this while carrying out daily activities such as laundry. The baby carrier below is highly rated on Amazon!
9.Put your baby in a swing: This was a lifesaver for us!
10.Change the scenery: I actually would often take my baby outside and she’d stop crying within a few minutes!
11.Take your baby for a ride in the car.
12.Give your baby a bath: This often calms and relaxes us, so it can do the same for baby.
13.Turn on soothing music.
14.Give your baby a massage.
15.Be as calm as you can, as the baby can pick up on stress and frustration.
As a parent, again, it’s a trial and error process. The pacifier was a BIG thing for my baby, but it helped her so much. As mentioned, you can never spoil a baby by doing whatever you can to soothe him or her. In fact, responding consistently to your baby helps develop an attachment, which is a strong emotional bond between parent and baby. In doing so, you are helping your baby develop trust that their needs will be met. And remember, this phase only last a few months, and there won’t be as much crying anymore.