Caring for children can become very stressful. Your baby’s crying is not a reflection on how good a parent or care provider you are.
Crying is the main way of communication for babies who are less than three months old. The average baby can cry about two to three hours within a 24 hour period. Crying usually peaks at six weeks and then decreases steadily after this. There is a big decrease by three months of age.
Sometimes, calming your baby can be difficult. Comforting a baby is sometimes a “trial and error” process.
- Is my baby sick? Feverish?
- Is my baby hungry? Gassy?
- Does my baby need to be burped?
- Does my baby need a dry diaper?
- Is my baby bored or lonely?
- Is my baby overstimulated? Overtired?
- Is my baby’s clothing tight?
- Is my baby over or under dressed?
- Is my baby in strong sunlight or in a cold draft?
- Are my baby’s hands and feet cold?
- How am I feeling? Am I calm? Upset? Frustrated? Helpless?
Tips to calm a crying baby:
- Your heartbeat may comfort the baby; snuggle your baby close to your chest.
- Wrap your baby in a soft blanket. Keep your baby warm and comfortable, but not too hot. Do not put your baby in crib or bassinette wrapped in a blanket.
- Provide some soft music or other relaxing sounds. Try humming or singing a lullaby. Sometimes, the sound of the vacuum cleaner, clothes dryer, fish tank filter or dishwasher helps calm a baby.
- Offer a favorite blanket or soft toy while cuddling the baby.
- Provide gentle motion. Walk with or rock your baby. Try a baby swing if you have one. Take the baby for a walk in an infant carrier or stroller. Some babies like to go for a car ride (be sure baby is safely secured in an infant car seat).
When baby won’t stop crying:
- Try to stay calm. This isn’t always easy!
- Have a backup plan for the fussy time of the day, which is usually late afternoon or early evening. See the “Tips to Calm a Crying Baby” section.
- If your baby has known colic, remind yourself that the long periods of crying won’t last forever. Every baby outgrows colic.
NEVER SHAKE YOUR BABY! This can damage your baby’s brain. Never touch a baby in anger.
If you are frustrated, you should:
- Talk with your partner about how you can help each other.
- Talk with other parents about how they coped.
- If you are becoming angry, put your baby down and hold onto something you can’t throw. Count to 10, leave the room, cry into or pound a pillow, or run on the spot.
- Don’t touch your baby until you are calm.
- Gently place the baby in a safe place and leave the room. Take a 10 – 15 minute break to give yourself a chance to calm down.
- Find someone to help you. Call a friend or relative you can trust. It is important to get away from the baby if you think you might lose control. It is just as important to be sure that the baby will be safe while you are gone.
If the crying is constant, louder than usual, or the baby has a fever or is vomiting, or you have concerns that something is wrong, go to the hospital or health clinic or call Health Line 811.
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