In a day, dealing with a baby who cries for two or three hours can be quite challenging. Exploring clever ways to stop a baby from crying can benefit you and your little one, making these tough moments more manageable.
George, my firstborn, was a yeller. Unlike his easygoing big sister, he cried for the first six months of his life. He yelled when he was in any of these states: hungry, wet, exhausted, or bored.
In an instant, he could go from being a cute little angel to a chaotic slob. He would get crimson in the face, arch his back, and start flailing his arms. Nursing, diaper changes, and hugs were some of the ways I attempted to calm him. But when even those failed, I inevitably broke down in sobs. At first, parents could wonder, “What’s wrong with my baby?” but they’d soon start to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” I couldn’t believe how helpless I felt like I was failing at the most fundamental aspect of motherhood: calming my child.
Rallie McAllister, M.D., a family physician in Lexington, Kentucky, says, “For new parents, figuring out what all the crying means can be challenging, frustrating, and even scary.” If they can’t figure out why their baby is crying right away, they may worry that something is physically wrong with the infant.
Crystal Clancy of Eagan, Minnesota, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says that an inconsolable child can also make a new parent feel helpless. She argues that this is especially upsetting for new parents who have enjoyed confidence and mastery in their abilities.
Dr. McAllister assures expectant parents that, with practice, they will become experts at deciphering and responding to their infant’s screams. In addition, even if you are an expert at caring for a baby with colic, you may not be able to prevent all of the crying. Put these strategies to use until then.
1. Perform the Shoosh–Bounce
Whisper soothing sounds into your baby’s ear as you rock them in a carrier. “I carried my fussy baby around in a sling all over the apartment, the block, and the city,” explains Brooklynite Lili Zarghami. While she was being swung back and forth, I did the dishes and the laundry.
Research suggests that an infant’s heart rate and muscle tension decrease in response to being carried or rocked because the brain experiences a relaxing response. The continuous shooshing may also serve as a welcome diversion from your baby’s cries.
2. Amplify the Music
There’s no need only to sing soothing tunes. Experiment with a wide variety of music, including your personal favorites. “Forget You” by CeeLo was Vivian’s go-to chillout song, according to Jennifer Rainey Marquez of Atlanta. Lindsay Reinhardt’s son in Brooklyn loved listening to reggae. Melanie Pleva of New Jersey’s Springfield gave birth to a child who loves the Black Sabbath song “Iron Man.” He’d start to chuckle as soon as he heard it start up.
The logic behind its efficacy: A baby’s heart and breathing rates can benefit from music’s calming effect on the neurological system. And even if you aren’t the next Taylor Swift, never discount the impact of your voice. The familiarity of their mother’s voice and the soothing cadence of her singing may be very comforting to their little ears.
3. Repeat After Me
I used to play back recordings of my baby sons crying and fussing for them when they were toddlers. Jillian St. Charles of West Knoxville, Tennessee, comments, “They were mesmerized by the sound of a crying baby.”
Reasoning for its efficacy: Babies might become so upset that they have a hard time relaxing, even after the source of their distress has been removed (such as a dirty diaper). They are emotionally “stuck” in their tears. Babies can be startled out of their distress by an unexpected distraction, such as hearing their own voice on a recording. Because infants are naturally curious, presenting them with a novel experience can often end their crying spell.
4. Put Out Lights
Polly Blitzer Wolkstein discovered that keeping her hyperactive twins in a completely dark room helped calm them down. I’d put them in a swing with a pacifier and draw the curtains. The swings made them feel like they were being rocked in their mother’s arms, and within two minutes, the New York City child would be fast asleep.
Why it helps: Newborns are easily overstimulated by the sights and sounds of the world around them. After all, infants are accustomed to total darkness and silence in the womb. They may feel more at ease after turning off the stimuli.
5. Create a Scene
White noise is another solution that many parents swear by. Test out a fan or vacuum, invest in a white-noise machine, or utilize a smartphone app.
The logic behind its efficacy: According to Dr. Rivers, these noises are meant to represent what an unborn child would have heard when their mother’s or father’s blood flowed through the placenta. Sounds like children playing or the clatter of dishes is masked by the white noise environment. Just turn down the volume. The National Institutes of Health reports that white-noise machines can cause hearing loss in infants if they are used for too long in a noisy environment.
6. Swap Out the Background
Jessica White of Smyrna, Georgia, claims her fussy infant always knew when she was feeling anxious. Then, I realized she needed to be handed over to either my husband or my grandmother. If White could not change her caretakers, she would relocate to a new location. Moving her from the nursery to the kitchen or terrace would often break her tearful stupor.
The change of scenery may be all that’s needed to cheer up a fussy infant.
7. De-Stress Through Exercise
In the evenings, Kate Motz, a mother of three from Sunnyvale, California, would go for a run. “As soon as my husband got home, I’d hand him the baby and go to spin class to get my mind off things,” Motz explains.
The reason it helps is that when you exercise, your body produces endorphins, which are essentially feel-good hormones. Taking your emphasis off your little one and onto your own body, as recommended by Dr. Rivers, might help you feel more in charge again. Having some “alone time” to recharge your batteries may give you the strength to handle the crying more calmly when you return to the fray.
8. Leave the House
While Jeannie Kim was on maternity leave in New York City, her husband had a job that took him out of the house from 5 a.m. until as late as midnight. She says the four walks she took that day helped her keep her sanity. The long walks usually helped soothe the infant as well.
There’s a good reason this works: despite the fact that many new parents worry that strangers may be upset by their baby’s cries, you should walk outside and get some fresh air. Even if the baby doesn’t stop crying, you could feel less pressure if you’re not trapped inside.
9. Put Yourself First and Relax
Samantha Jacobs bought a pair of noise-canceling headphones as a present for herself. ‘Everyone speaks about using music to comfort the baby, but sometimes I need music to soothe myself,’ says the Fort Lauderdale mother. If I’m home alone and my baby starts to cry too much, I’ll put her in her crib and lock the door to my room. She explains I’ll put on the one music that always helps me chill out and have more patience. Then I’ll go back and see if I can settle her down.
Why it helps: Putting an end to the sobbing, even for a little while, will help calm your mind and heart. You give me energy, and now I can cry for longer without getting exhausted.
10. Create a Comedy Album
If your baby has a regular crying time, try to keep yourself entertained while you tend to them. Katie Bugbee, a Boston mother, regularly watched her favorite TV show on DVR while attempting to soothe her fussy infant son in the mornings.
Those who are reeling from negative feelings can benefit from laughing. It’s a great method to distract yourself from negative thoughts and emotions that may be weighing you down.
11. Relax and Take a Deep Breath
Therapist and new mom Jana Davis of Norfolk, Virginia, learned that the baby’s cries weren’t the only scary thing about motherhood. It’s the combination of the new motherhood role, the quick hormonal shifts, and the lack of sleep. Davis employed a breathing method and sought support from her mother and best friend. She would close her eyes and place both hands on her stomach, then breathe in and out, focusing on the sensation of her hands rising and falling as she did so.
Davis found that by practicing this breathing method, she could calm herself down and regain control of her emotions.
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