There’s no doubt about it: a crying baby can wreak havoc on your mental and emotional well being! Parents can feel overwhelmed and helpless.
One of the first things that can help is leaning just why babies cry. That helps guide you in what action to take to soothe him or her. Here are 5 reasons why babies cry, and suggestions of what you can do.
1. Crying is Communicating
This is a basic fact that tends to get misinterpreted. Babies who cry are not behaving badly when they cry the way a tantrum-prone preschooler might be. Remember, babies can’t talk, so crying is how nature assures that babies won’t be ignored and will be given what they need to survive.
What you can do: Realize is that crying happens for a reason, even if it’s a baby-only-knows reason!
2. Too Hot or Too Cold
Your baby can’t ask you to take off his sweater or put on her jacket, but he or she can cry to express discomfort. Everyone’s personal “thermometer” is different; experts recommend putting your hand on baby’s tummy to determine if he or she is too hot or cold.
What you can do: If dressing your baby the way you are dressed isn’t working, try taking off or adding on a layer.
Here’s one you may not have thought about – after all, what’s a baby got to be stressed about? Well, if you’re a baby, life can be kind of scary – especially if Mom and Dad are arguing, siblings are yelling, a family member is upset, etc. Babies can pick up on tension, in other words.
What you can do: Try to tone it down and see if baby tones it down, too. Keep arguments until after baby is asleep or with a caretaker.
You probably thought of this one, but it helps to know that there are signs to watch for that indicate baby’s crying is hunger-related. Often, a hungry baby will smack their lips, turn their heads and root around, or suck on their hands/fingers. Babies need to eat often, and if they are sick or teething, they may want to eat a lot more because their nutritional needs have increased.
What you can do: See if baby will take a bottle or breastfeed.
5. Tired or Sleepy
Babies who are awakened before they’re ready or who are not able to sleep due to discomfort, noise, stimulation, or other reasons can cry and fuss. Babies who are overtired can have a complete “meltdown.”
What you can do: Swaddle baby or hold him close, or put her down in her crib or safe sleeping area and turn on some white noise like a fan. The key is to shut out stimulation and noise to calm baby down for sleep.
Remember, no matter what the reason is for baby’s crying, keep your cool and try to find out what your baby is trying to tell you.