If there’s one thing you expect as a new parent, it’s that your little one will cry. Babies cry because it’s their only way of communicating. But some babies cry for hours on end, and it’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed by this new, fussy baby.
Why Your Baby is Crying
It’s all too common for breastfeeding moms to question themselves first when baby is crying a lot and wonder whether baby is getting enough milk. Most newborns eat every few hours round-the-clock, and some babies become inconsolable when hunger strikes. If you are nursing or bottle-feeding regularly, chances are your baby is getting plenty to eat. To be sure, watch for these signs. Try to remember, not all crying is related to breastfeeding or hunger.
There are many, many reasons why your baby may be crying. They may be wet, too cold or too warm, over-stimulated, bored, tired, anxious, insecure, hungry, gassy, want to be held – the list goes on. Crying is the way babies capture your attention and communicate their needs. But even armed with this knowledge, any new parent may need some relief to stay sane.
What You Can Do for Relief
When your baby won’t stop crying or won’t respond to you, it’s natural to feel frustrated, tired, overwhelmed, and even sad or angry. It’s important to take care of yourself in these situations. It may seem impossible at the time, but try these tips for making it through a rough patch:
- Ask yourself what your baby needs. Typically, a baby will continue to cry until you respond to their needs. Go through a checklist of what baby might need – are they tired? Wet? Is there too much noise or activity going on for their little senses? Are they sick? Or do they just want to be held and bounced up and down? Chances are, your baby will respond to what they need by calming down. If not, check out some tips for calming a baby with colic.
- Take a break. When your little one just won’t stop crying, it’s important to give yourself permission to tap out for a moment. Step outside. Count to 10. Ask your partner, a family member or friend to come over and help with the baby. They may even take the baby outside for a walk. Or have them watch the baby and take that walk around the block by yourself.
- Keep your cool and know your limits. Pay attention to your own feelings, and ask for help before your anger or frustration bubbles over. Babies can sense your mood, and may have trouble calming down themselves if they know you aren’t calm. Knowing your limits also makes it easier to plan ahead for break times. Maybe your little one gets inconsolably fussy at 4:00 every afternoon. If you can, plan ahead to have your mom, partner or friend step in for help at 4:00 so you never get in a situation where you may lose your cool.
- Find a mantra. A mantra is a sound, word or phrase you tell yourself over and over again to find inspiration and comfort, and to help push through a challenging moment. Mantras can be helpful when you have a fussy baby. Try finding a phrase that you can say out loud, like “Just breathe,” “You can do this, mama,” “I am stronger than this storm,” or “This too will pass.”
Feeling Sad and Overwhelmed?
Listening to a baby cry for hours on end can be overwhelming, stressful, frustrating and scary for new parents. Sometimes babies just cry. You may feel like crying too, and that’s totally ok. It’s normal and healthy to cry from time to time.
However, if you find that you feel very sad most of the day and have long periods of crying, reach out to your healthcare provider and tell her how you are feeling. For 24-hour help, you can also call the Postpartum Depression Helpline at 1-800-944-4773 or visit http://www.postpartum.net/.
Moms – what tips do you have for dealing with a fussy baby? Share your advice, mantras and questions in the comments below.