A new baby can’t do anything for herself and relies totally on you to provide her with food, comfort, and warmth. Crying is the way she communicates that she needs those things, and how she ensures a response from you. You are hardwired for the sound of her crying to upset you – our species would have died out already if it didn’t bother us!
There are times when it can be hard work to figure out what your baby is trying to tell you. However, after time you'll learn what it is that your baby needs. As your baby grows she will begin to learn new ways of communicating. She will get better at making eye contact, smiling, and making new noises. These new communication methods will replace all of the crying used before to get attention.
As you try to figure these things out, if you find your baby difficult to soothe, then she might be trying to communicate one of the following -
I am hungry!
Hunger will be the most common reason that your newborn cries. The younger the baby is, then the more it is likely that it wants something to eat when it cries. At this stage the baby's stomach is too small to hold very much. So if the baby cries, then try giving it some milk. The baby could be hungry even if the last feeding wasn't so long ago.
I need you to hold me!
A baby needs plenty of cuddling. They crave physical contact and get their comfort and reassurance from it. So the crying could mean nothing more than a desire to be held. Try using a baby sling, that way you can keep the baby close. Try singing and swaying back and forth while you are holding your baby.
You might worry about spoiling the baby if you are holding it too often however during the baby's first few months that is impossible! Small newborns need plenty of physical comforting. If you hold the baby close it can be soothed just from hearing your heartbeat.
I am tired and need to rest!
Many times a baby will have a hard time getting to sleep. This is especially true when they are 'over-tired'. Soon you will be able to recognize when the baby is sending out 'need-to-sleep' signals. Crying and whining at the smallest thing, or staring blankly out into space, or simply going totally quiet are a few examples of this.
When babies receive lots of attention and a lot of cuddles from doting visitors, they can become over-stimulated. That makes it harder for them to settle down and switch off when it's time to sleep. Take the baby into a calm, quiet place that is conducive to restful sleep and let it settle down.
I am too hot or too cold!
Very young babies tend hate to have their nappies changed or to be bathed. They might not be used to feeling cold air on their skin and prefer to stay bundled up and kept warm. You will soon learn ways of performing quick nappy changes if that is the case. And if bath time is a battle just remember that you don’t NEED to bath your baby every day. A simple wipe down of key areas will probably suffice for a newborn. You can do this on the change table with some warm water and a cloth.
Be careful not to ever overdress the baby or they will become too hot. They generally need to wear at least one more clothing layer than you do in order to be comfortable.
I am uncomfortable!
A baby might protest if their clothes are on too tight or if their nappy is wet. Wet or pooey nappies can irritate their skin – if you find this happens to your baby a lot, consider using a thick barrier cream to protect their precious skin. Talk to a pharmacist about which would be best for your baby.
I just feel like crying!
If the baby is under 5 months old, then it could begin to cry during late afternoons and evenings. That is quite normal and does not mean something is wrong with the baby. Often even cuddling or rocking doesn’t soothe a baby who just feels like crying and that’s okay – it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong!
These displays of unhappiness can range anywhere from short bursts of un-consolable crying to as long as several hours of it at a stretch. When the baby is crying, it can become frustrated and flushed, and totally refuse all your attempts at comforting it. A baby might clench its fists, draw up its knees, or arch its back.
It can be quite disconcerting when it feels like nothing you do works to ease the baby's distress. It might be hard but you can rest assured the baby will finally outgrow that phase.
If you would like personalised help with any sleep issue for a child, newborn to 5 years, contact Katie Forsythe at The Baby Sleep Co today on 0457 473 725 or click here to send us an email.
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