Soothing Your Crying Baby!
By: Tara Wood, M.A.
One of the hardest things about being a parent of a newborn is dealing with a crying baby. As parents, the last thing we want to hear is our baby crying. But one of the amazing aspects about how God created these little ones is that He gave them the ability to communicate with us when they need something. The most common reasons for why a baby cries are: they're hungry, they need changing or to be burped, they feel over stimulated, they' re bored (need some stimulation), they desire a change in stimulation (to be held a different way, play with a new toy, sit up, lie down, etc.) or they need some good-old bonding time with caretaker (hold me, soothe me, let me know you're near).
Whenever your baby cries (and she will), first look into one of the above reasons for her distress. She may just be trying to communicate with you that she has a need that needs to be met. But also keep in mind that babies cry between 1-4 hours a day and will cry the most between 6 and 8 weeks. Babies often cry for no reason at all. Nervous systems are developing, lungs are developing, stress and energy need to be released.sometimes babies just cry.
When your baby cries, the number one rule is STAY CALM. Sometimes easier said than done, especially when it's two in the morning and you're sick with exhaustion. But babies feed off our energy level. If your stress level is rising, your baby will pick up on that, sense something must be wrong and likely increase their own stress level. Take deep breaths. Hold baby close and try to match your breathing to his. Begin counting out loud in a slow and low voice. Force yourself to talk softly to your baby. Talk about your day, where you would like to travel to someday and what you'd do there.anything. In many cases, you'll be amazed at how slowing down and calming yourself down will also calm down your little one. Whatever strategy you choose for calming yourself down, keep reminding yourself that it's OK that your baby is crying. Crying is part of how God created infants. All infants cry. Repeating this self-talk to yourself helps you remember that you are not alone. There are parents all over the world at this very moment dealing with their own crying babies.
Now that you are calm, here are 5 Strategies for soothing your baby if all else fails:
SWADDLE - Wrap your baby tightly in a warm blanket. No blanket available? Hold him close and tight to your body. Make sure all arms and legs are tucked in. Don't let his flailing appendages fool you. Being wrapped up mimics the tight quarters of the womb, a safe comforting place. Most babies find this to be very soothing.
SUCK - Whether it's a pacifier, your finger, or nursing, sucking is a natural soother to babies, not just a means for eating.
SWING - Gently rock your baby in your arms, sit on an exercise ball and bounce, go for a walk around the room, rhythmically move your baby. Babies spent 9 months swinging with the movements of their mothers in the womb. Mimicking these movements will trigger baby's memories of being safe and secure.
SING - Come on. You can do it! Your baby does not care how good of a singer you are. They just love hearing the smooth rhythmic tones that singing creates in your voice. Keep your voice low and quiet as you sing. Sing the song over and over to give predictability to the sound patterns. Parents who use this technique often enough find that this becomes one of the most effective soothing techniques, some even claiming that their baby will almost instantly stop crying once the singing begins. If you really just can't bring yourself to sing ANY song, try saying nursery rhymes in a slow sing-song-y voice. The rhythm of the rhymes can have the same effect.
SHHHHHH - Hold baby close to your mouth and "Shush" long and strong or in a rhythmic pattern into their ear. Don't break their eardrums, but don't be afraid to be fairly loud either. This works because once again you're mimicking the loud "white noise" sounds of the womb.
With any of these strategies, give them a chance to take effect before giving up on it. While one of these is sure to soothe a crying baby most of the time, don't necessarily expect instant results. It may take a few minutes for the baby to realize that she likes what she's experiencing.
God also provided us parents with some good intuition. If you sense something is really wrong with your baby, you could be right. Don't hesitate to call your healthcare provider if you feel your baby is inconsolable due to something serious such as an illness or injury.
Tara Wood, MA is the director of Family Nurturing for Xylem Family Resource, a nonprofit organization serving expecting couples and families within the Christian community. She supports and educates parents in skills that are developmentally appropriate for their children, including Baby & Me classes, baby sign language, and parenting workshops and consultations. For more information, visit http://www.xylemfamily.org/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.