Did you ever imagine getting so stressed and upset from the sound of a baby crying? Apparently, when it’s your baby it feels like it physically hurts, doesn’t it?
You’ll do almost anything to make your tiny baby calm down, stop crying and go back to his/her relaxed bundle-of-cuteness state. But sometimes, just picking your baby up and holding him in your arms doesn’t do its usual magic.
And when you don’t know what to try next, it can make you feel a bit depressed or make you question your abilities as a mom. Don’t. First of all, babies were evolutionary “designed” to cry for their survival.
Second, you’re not alone. Here’s your step-by-step guide to finding out why your baby is crying and how to calm a crying baby – Like a pro.
How to Know Why My Baby is Crying
First, you should know that not knowing why your baby is crying has nothing to do with your skills as a mother. Babies cry for many different reasons or a combination of reasons such as hunger, fatigue, overstimulation, colic, wet diaper, and more.
What’s in common with all of the above is that they feel uncomfortable to some degree. They need your help. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to help you find the reason that your adorable baby is upset, and how to make him/her stop in no time.
How to calm a crying baby
1. Check if He/She is Hungry
Your baby should be fed on demand. His insatiable hunger mechanism works like nature planned it and if eating/breastfeeding stops his crying – it’s exactly what he needs.
2. Check if He/She Needs to Burp
Sometimes the solution is simple yet often forgotten. A baby needs to burp after each time he eats. Lift the baby on your shoulder so that his chest is pressed onto your shoulder. If there’s no burp after a few minutes, try the next steps.
3. Check the Diaper
No baby likes a wet diaper. Change his/her diaper and if it calms him/her down, consider letting your baby be diaper-free for a few minutes. They like it! They get to move their legs more freely and feel a nice “breeze” in their lower body. (Wouldn’t you like that, if you had to wear a diaper 24/7?)
4. Check if He/She is too Cold or too Warm
Check the room temperature. Is the baby sweating? Are his/her hands and feet cold? Until the age of 3 months, the “rule” is that your baby wears one more layer than you do. However, every baby is different and if, for example, he is sweating his little tushie off, give him a chance to cool down by taking off some of his clothes.
5. See if He/She is Tired
As the weeks pass, you will learn to identify the routine of your baby. Most babies’ first months of life will follow this routine: waking up, eating, spending some wake-up time and activity, and then sleeping and so on.
Each child has his own “rhythm” and in time you will identify whether he is tired or hungry according to his routine. In the early months, most babies do not know how to fall asleep alone and need our help. And that’s okay.
Don’t worry if he/she gets used to sleeping in your arms or while you breastfeed him/her. When the time comes he/she will learn to fall asleep on his/her own. Meanwhile, he is just being loved and hugged and is gaining high self-value – feelings that will accompany him throughout his life.
To help him/her fall asleep, try using movement (while in your arms) or even better – gentle bouncing on a fitness ball –which can make him fall asleep in less than a minute. (Bouncing on a fitness ball is also, in my experience, the fastest way to calm a colicky baby!)
6. Sucking Reflex
Give your baby something to suck on, like your breast, your/his thumb or finger, or a pacifier. The sucking reflex calms the baby through special touch sensors/ring muscles found in the mouth.
Ring muscles in our body (tongue, mouth, heart, intestines, eyes, and anus) trigger chain operations, and when a baby activates his mouth muscles by sucking he finds it easier to relax, sleep, release gas, and poop. (This is why many babies fall asleep or poop while breastfeeding…)
Try to wrap your baby with a swaddle blanket (this is my favorite) or cloth diaper, kind of like an egg roll looks. Wrapping simulates the womb, is protective, and gives a sense of boundaries and support when a baby feels lost in a big space.
8. White Noise
Try to emulate the sounds your baby heard in your womb. Babies in the womb hear both internal and external noises. They hear your heartbeat, the sound movement of the amniotic fluid, the mother’s voice, and many other external noises. White noise is similar to the “shhh” we instinctively say to a crying baby. It’s monotonous and relaxing for a baby and even the sound of a hairdryer or a ventilator can soothe a fussy baby.
9. Go Outside for a Walk
Many times just leaving the house in the fresh air calms the baby and his/her mother immediately. You can go out with him/her with a carrier or a stroller. The main thing is to change the atmosphere, renew energy, breathe deeply and relax.
10. Check for Colic
Colic is one of the most common causes for crying in babies, but don’t let the stories from other moms scare you. Sometimes there are simple solutions for complicated problems.
Some experts claim that colic is due to immaturity of the gastrointestinal tract of many babies and some argue that it is the process of adapting to the world outside the womb.
Signs of colic: – Baby flexing his hands and pulling his knees up – Repeated crying at regular hours – typically evening- several days a week – Distractions don’t help to calm him because he is in pain.
How to Calm a Baby with Colic
According to Doctor (a nationally renowned pediatrician), we can help our baby with colic by imitating his conditions in the womb. Therefore, all the tips from the previous section are also relevant here including touch and movement, sucking reflex, wrapping, white noise, and fresh air.
In addition, you can try:
- Rub the baby’s belly with your fingers clockwise to help his bowels to “work” and release gases.
- 2. Fold your baby’s legs toward his stomach, relax and fold back again. This will help to release gas from the digestive system.
- 3. Lukewarm bath – Water is known for its ability to relieve pain in children and in adults.
- Lay your baby as a “tiger lying on a tree”. Lay baby on your forearm so that his cheek is resting in the palm of your hand and his belly is pressed against your arm.
11. Check for Over-Stimulation
The transition from the quiet, dark, and calm of the uterus into our world, filled with the smells, sounds, and lights is not an easy transition for many infants (Just imagine spending 9 months in a dark, quiet, watery place and within seconds being thrown outside to a cold, bright, noisy atmosphere).
Sometimes a baby can get upset from spending too much time around loud music, loud TV, many people around him (trying to “talk” to him), and so on.
Try taking your baby to a quiet room with dim light, away from the stimulation of television, the other children at home, guests, and other noises. Sway him in your arms slowly, holding him close to your heart so he could hear it beating and sing a song to him softly or repeat “hush-hush” until he relaxes and stops crying.
12. Check for Teething
Your baby’s teeth erupt between the ages of three months to one year of age. You may first notice disquiet in your child’s behavior. He may nervously bite his hands or fingers and put objects in his mouth.
For most babies, teething involves pain. Such pain may cause the baby to wake up several times during the night. If you suspect this is what causes your baby to cry, the first thing you can do is give him something cold to run his gums against.
Also, there are natural pain-relieving gels that work wonderfully.
13. If Nothing Helps…
Very important! If you feel your baby is not calm, crying a lot, and very hard to calm him down, take him to the pediatrician for a check-up. Some babies are born with reflux, often undiscovered. There are also situations of allergies, ear infection, and constipation – Which should be diagnosed by a doctor, to be on the safe side.