Does your baby cry a lot? Babies cry, we all know that, but some honestly do cry much more than others. I know how hard it can be to listen to your baby crying continuously with no end. It’s so hard to feel like you can’t help and the sound can became unbearable too. You might even find yourself having negative thoughts about your child when it gets too overwhelming, moving from feeling frustrated with the situation to feeling frustrated with him or her. As a brand new, overwhelmed mom, you may not have enough tools for this situation. It’s so hard to help your crying baby and take care of yourself as well. As they say, “this too shall pass”, but I’d like to share some ideas that might help. These are for those times when a feed, diaper change, swaddle, or rocking/bouncing motion just isn’t cutting it.
1. Try skin-to-skin. We hear a lot about the importance of skin-to-skin for the time immediately after a baby is born, but the benefits continue for many years. While baby is undressed, take off your shirt and hold him skin-to-skin. You can rock, walk slowly around, sway, lie down, or put him in a carrier against your skin. This releases oxytocin, and sometimes calms babies and helps them regulate their heart rate and breathing.
2. Try bathtime. Water can be incredibly therapeutic; the warmth, the weightlessness, the sound of the faucet running. Even better, get into the bath with your baby so you can hold her and both calm down together.
3. Talk to your baby. Validate your baby’s feelings and remind him that you’re there to help and you love him. Tell him it’s OK to cry and you’ll get through this together.
4. Center yourself by breathing. If you feel yourself getting frustrated and/or anxious, forgive yourself and know that it’s OK to feel that way. Then, stop what you’re doing. You can even put baby down somewhere safe for a moment, walk a few feet away (or just outside the room), and take a moment to breathe. Deep belly breaths, in which you breathe slowly and deeply to expand your belly, will tell your body that you are safe and help counteract that adrenaline rush. If you used breathing during labor, one of those exercises might help too.
5. Affirm yourself. I’m a big fan of self-affirmation and finding mantras. Remind yourself that you are loving your baby in this moment and that she is crying in the safety of your company and your arms. Repeat a simple mantra to yourself like, “this is hard, but it will get better” or “don’t forget to breathe”.
6. Get support. If somebody else is home, ask them to take care of baby for a while and go engage in some self-care. Leave the house for a walk or short drive if you need to clear your head. If you’re home alone with baby, call a trusted friend or relative to ask them to come over or to help or just to talk to you for a few minutes. You don’t have to do this alone and asking for help is a strong thing to do.
And finally, if your instinct tells you that there’s something bigger at play here, you can absolutely see your baby’s pediatrician. If that’s not the case though, be gentle with yourself and work to get the help and support you need.
For a few more ideas, and a handy little infographic, check out my previous post, 10 Things to Try When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying, over at New Mama Project.