Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby crying: settling your newborn


Babies cry. It’s a fact of life for your newborn baby and for you. Newborns, babies from birth through the end of the third month, cry anywhere from 1 to 4 hours a day. Fortunately, not all at once! Short periods of crying (5 to 15 minutes on average) pop up here and there over each 24-hour period we call a “day.”
There are plenty of reasons for your little one to work her lungs. She’s too cold, too warm, hungry or gassy, sleepy or over stimulated. Perhaps she just wants a cuddle or maybe it’s too quiet in the room. As a new parent, it’s important for you to remember that your baby will cry (and cry and cry) and it likely hurts you (or at least your ears) more than it hurts her. Still, your instinct will have you wanting to settle your upset baby and I’m here to offer a few techniques that are tried and true for parents around the world.
The first thing to do is to consider the obvious: has it been more than 2 or 3 hours since your crying baby has slept, eaten or pooped? For the first 3 months of life these 3 things are required frequently!
If a nap, a meal or a diaper change hasn’t solved the issue, try one of these:
Cuddling – One of the best and most satisfying baby settling techniques is to just cuddle your baby. Until very, shockingly recently, your baby was safe and warm inside of you. When you walked, he was rocked, when you talked or sang in the shower, he was comforted by your voice. Even when you were perfectly still and quiet, the whoosh of your blood and the beat of your heart kept him in a wonderfully noisy environment. It was one very long cuddle.
The how to: Chest to chest, with as much skin on skin as possible, hold your crying baby with his head resting on the left side of your chest so that his ear is nearest to your heart. Either wrap your arms around him, or use a baby wrap that keeps him snug to you, but leaves your arms free. Continue about your day or sit in a comfortable chair, rocking if possible, and simply snuggle. It may take a few minutes for the crying to cease, but baby will feel safe and warm again with all of his favorite, familiar sounds. You’ll be enraptured by his incredibly soft, warm cheek on your chest.
Vacuuming – This may sound strange, but when nothing else worked for my firstborn, vacuuming did. It’s not that she’s a clean-freak, she’s 6 now and that has proven not to be the reason! It was the constant white noise of the cleaning machine that was a sure-fire soother for my baby and likely will be for yours too.
The how to: Start by holding your crying newborn baby as you begin to vacuum. The loud noise and back and forth movement will settle her quickly. After a few minutes when you see that she’s calm, feel free to lay her down in a safe, soft spot. Now that you’re vacuuming, you might as well finish the job! Baby is almost guaranteed to stay quiet while you do.
Rock & Shush – Movement and noise combine as one of the most effective methods for settling your newborn’s cries. By now you know why this works!
The how to: Hold baby in the cradle position, her head at the crook of your elbow, your opposite hand securely under her bottom, and baby’s body tight up against your chest. Spread your feet hip-distance apart and shift your weight from side-to-side. That’s the ‘rock’.
Now, loudly and rhythmically “Shush” your baby. Drag out the “Sh” sound on both ends of the word. You are recreating the “whoosh” of your blood flow that she became so familiar with back in the womb.
Babies cry, it’s true, but utilizing these methods will help you quickly and confidently settle your upset, crying newborn.
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