Introduction

Crying is how babies tell us what they need— food, comfort and security. Some babies rarely cry and others cry a lot. If your baby cries a lot, it does not mean you are a bad parent or that your baby is bad. It is important to know that babies do not cry to upset us. But, coping with crying babies can make your life stressful.

Do not shake or spank your baby if you can not st op him from crying. Remember, babies do not mean to upset you. They are too young to understand and will cry more if you get mad with them. Rough actions, even in a playful way, can forever injure baby’s softly formed bones, internal organs and brain.

Most babies have regular fussy periods during the day. Knowing when your baby gets fussy will help - give him extra attention and try to ease your own stress. The following are some helpful ways to cope with crying babies.

Rock

Start and stop rocking back and forth while holding the baby upright can calm a fussy baby. Cradle and rock baby in your arms continuously (without stopping) will help put a baby to sleep.

Swaddle

Wrap your baby in a warm, soft blanket with just his head uncovered. Also, a baby sling that brings baby close to your chest can be very soothing to a crying baby.

Change Clothes

Try to figure out if your baby is dressed too warmly or not warmly enough. Adjust clothing to make him more comfortable.

Burp

Try gently burping your baby to see if an air bubble in her stomach is making her uncomfortable.

Cure Diaper Rash

Leave his diaper off and place him on a waterproof pad. Use Vitamin A & D ointment on his bottom with cornstarch. If diaper rash is severe, check with your doctor.

Share Shifts

Household members can take turns being with your baby.

Use Pacifier

For bottled babies, this is often helpful. When you breastfeed, more frequent nursing can help calm a baby. Be sure to wait until milk supply is established before using a pacifier. By the 3rd to 4th week of breastfeeding, your newborn baby may use a pacifier, if needed.

Try Sounds

Record your baby’s cries and play them back to her. Some babies stop crying to listen to themselves! Or try soft music, singing, the clothes dryer or other sounds to see if they help.

Swap “Babysitting”

Find a trustworthy neighbor or friend to watch your baby so you can get out and relax. Then, you can take your turn babysitting her child.

Massage Baby

It appears to relax both baby and parent.

Hire a Caregiver

Find responsible sitters that you trust. Although costly, it may be well worth the freedom and peace of mind.

Take a 20-10 Break

If your baby has been crying nonstop, first make sure nothing is wrong physically. If he continues to cry, carry him and rock him for 20 minutes. Then put him back in the crib for 10 minutes while you relax yourself. Repeat the above steps as necessary.

Most of All – Hang in There

The first three months are the hardest. If you try to soothe your baby now, chances are he will have settled down by the fourth month.

Special Note About Crying/Colic

One in five babies develops colic: repeated periods of prolonged, intense crying.

How to Recognize

  • Baby cries for 3 or more hours per day on at least 3 days per week.
  • Baby’s crying is very intense.
  • Baby is unable to soothe!

How to Cope

  • Swaddle OR warmth – wrap baby tightly OR place in warm tub.
  • Motion – in a baby swing, stroller or car (with properly installed car seat), also rocking.
  • Low humming noise – constant and continuous sound. Can be singing or humming, a vacuum cleaner, a fan, or clothes dryer.
  • Pacifiers – often stops crying immediately; crying may start again if baby loses pacifier. (Note - pacifier can interfere with breastfeeding.)
  •  Massage – lay baby on his tummy and gently rub (with baby oil as needed) his back. Gentle message often calms a colicky baby.
  • Ask for help – call your pediatrician or a parent’s support group for help if you feel you’re out of control and may harm your baby.

Hush Little Baby*

Hush little baby, don’t you cry; Mom’s gonna sing you a lullaby. And if you are still crying a lake, Mom’s gonna take a 20-10 break. And if that break doesn’t give you a lift, Mom’s gonna share a crybaby shift. So, hush little baby, don’t you cry; Mom’s gonna hang in there ‘till your eyes are dry, EVEN IF IT TAKES 20 YEARS!

To be sung to melody of “Hush Little Baby, Mama’s going to buy you a Mockingbird.”

*Adapted from Partners In Parenting (CM95-01) - a home visiting program for parenting adolescents, developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Ask for breastfeeding fact sheets published by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Call (702) 257-5547.

Mom's Special Gift is funded by the Food Stamp Program. Food Stamps can help make ends meet and serve as the first line in defense against hunger. It enables low income families to buy eligible nutritious food in authorized food stores.

Sigman-Grant, M. and Tang, M. 2004, Coping With Crying Babies, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-04-01

Authors of this scholarly work are no longer available.

Please contact Extension's Communication Team for assistance.

 

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