Have you ever been on a long flight with a crying baby next to you? It can keep you from sleeping, and you will probably arrive at your destination feeling stressed and tired. But what do you do when the crying baby is in the next room, and you are the one who can do something about it? What should you do when it is your responsibility to calm them down any hour of the day or night? Every baby is different, so what will calm them down will probably vary. First, ask yourself: “can I identify the cause?”. Is your baby hungry? Did something scare them? Do they need their diaper changed? Is your baby in pain? Is it too hot or too cold for them?
What can I do if my baby is crying?
Having a crying baby can be overwhelmingly stressful, but there is no need to panic. There are many different ways to calm down your baby. Be patient, the moment you see your baby soundly asleep or giggling joyfully it will all have been worth it.
Some of the things you can do are:
- Check their diaper and change it if dirty.
- Pick your baby in your arms and rock them gently.
- Rub your baby’s back. - Feed them, if they are hungry. - Change the scenery. If the time of the day and the weather are favourable, it can be a good way to distract your baby. You can put them in their car seat and go for a car ride or put them on a stroller and take a walk in the park. - Dress you baby up in as many layers as you are wearing to feel comfortable in the room. - Turn off the lights. One of the things that can be upsetting your baby is overstimulation caused either by excessive light or sound. - Sing or hum a song. You can also play some soothing music or white noise. - Give them a pacifier. - If nothing seems to be working, and you feel worried you can always call a doctor, so they can tell you if there is any type of medical condition that can be causing your child’s discomfort. - Check their temperature. If your baby has a fever, you should contact your health care provider right away.
Remember that whatever the reasons for your baby’s discomfort, your baby will be fine as long as they are near you. You are the safest place for your baby to be, and you will eventually figure out why your baby is crying and get to know the different cries and what they could mean.
What you shouldn’t do
Have you ever heard of shaken baby syndrome? It is a brain injury, also known as abusive head trauma, that can be caused when someone shakes a baby when angry or frustrated. The damage can be permanent and have serious consequences. But do not worry, as long as you remember to handle your baby with care and manage your own stress, this injury is unlikely to happen. Whenever you feel your patience is running out, make sure your baby is in a safe place, preferably laying down, and go calm yourself down before coming back to sooth them.
You need to be calm too
Going back to the airplane analogy at the beginning, in case of an emergency, you should always put the air mask on yourself first. Why so? Because you will not be able to help your kid – or anyone more vulnerable, for that matter – if you are not okay. The same applies here. Calming down a baby can be stressful, especially if you are already tired. If after many attempts your baby is still crying, take a few seconds to yourself if you can. A quick breathing exercise may help.
Calming down a baby might not always feel like an easy task. It is okay if you are tired, and it feels like too much sometimes. If you do not manage to calm them down right away, it does not mean you are a bad parent or that you love your baby any less. You should always rely on emotional support. Whenever you feel stressed, talking it out with a family member or a friend can help immensely. Take a deep breath, you got this!
References: - Dineen, C. W. (2020, August 6). 11 Genius Ways to Make a Baby Stop Crying. Parents. - How to Calm a Fussy Baby: Tips for Parents & Caregivers. (2016). HealthyChildren.Org. - What to Do When Babies Cry (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. (2019). KidsHealth.