Try these 9 strategies out!
This baby didn’t come with an instruction manual! He won’t stop crying and I don’t know what to do! What the hell am I doing? I must be a terrible mother!
Deep breaths – you’ve got this, Mama.
Babies cry for a reason, we just need to figure out what that reason is. Sometimes it’s easy and they’re hungry or sometimes it’s tricky to figure out, like an allergy to food that mum is eating. So work your way through these options and techniques. If one thing doesn’t work, that’s ok, try something else until you have figured out your baby… and you will figure her out.
How do I get my newborn to stop crying?
Is your baby hungry?
This is the most common reason. Always offer more food as a first (unless a medical professional advises otherwise). It’s almost impossible to overfeed a baby as they turn away when full. If you are following a non-medical schedule of only feeding for a certain amount of time or giving only a certain amount of formula and your baby is still crying, try offering more. Some babies are bigger than average eaters. Newborns don’t really move that much but watch for your baby’s cues such as rooting, moving her head from side to side, moving his head towards your breast when you hold him, smacking her lips, sucking his lips or tongue, putting her fingers or fist into her mouth. It’s best to catch these signs and feed before the crying starts.
Is your baby wanting mama?
This is their survival instinct kicking in. Your baby is not being needy or developing bad habits or trying to manipulate you. As a first time mum with a needy baby, I was made to believe this & to feel wrong when I wanted to follow my instincts. What did I know compared to the experts? But I slowly discovered another world called Attachment Parenting. This was a turning point for me!
Baby is running on instinct and that is to be close to a source of protection. And imagine how scary it is to come from 9 months in a warm, dark, safe, cosy womb where you are constantly with mama to being in a cold, loud, bright place separated from your source of comfort. And some babies need this more than other babies. So cuddle and love your baby. So babywear, safely co-sleep, feed your baby to sleep, contact nap … all the things that Western mums are told not to do but which other cultures do as normal. Do what works for you and helps you to get through the difficult months because all those judgmental people are not the ones who have to deal with the crying all day & all night.
Does your baby need winding or to release gas?
Newborns can get quite windy and gassy as their digestive systems are still immature. Some say that if you formula feed, the baby is more windy (burps) and if you breastfeed, the baby is more gassy (bum burps). There are so many winding techniques and some work better on certain babies than others, but all babies are different. For gas, try massaging the tummy clockwise (careful of the belly button) and doing bicycle legs. One midwife we spoke to said to look for a grey-blue tinge under the skin, by the nose area, when a baby has trapped wind
Does your baby need a nappy change?
Some babies hate the feel of a soiled nappy, others are ok with it. This is an easy fix
Is your baby too hot or too cold?
Don’t judge their temperature from feeling a baby’s hands or feet. Check by putting your hand on the back of the neck or on the tummy. General rule is baby wears one more layer then you. Never put your baby in fleece- it’s terrible for overheating and a baby has a higher chance of dying from SIDS when overheated.
Is your baby overstimulated?
Some babies are very sensitive and what we think is normal could be overstimulating your baby. Bright lights, loud noises, lots of strange faces peering down at him, too much holding… it’s all a bit much. Dr Howard Chilton actually theorises that colic is as a result of over-stimulation– it’s a great read. So try calm your baby down. Go into a quiet, dark room. If you have been holding your baby for a long time, try put him down and just have a hand on him so he knows you are there but you’re giving his skin a break. You could also try calming essential oil rollers made specifically for newborns
Is your baby over tired?
Newborns usually stay awake for about 60 minutes after waking up so watch for cues from about 45 minutes. Cues can be yawning, jerky arm and leg movements, pulling on their ear, closing fists, sucking on fingers, grizzling, a fixed stare and frowning. But sometimes your baby will fight sleep. The silly thing is, when a baby is over tired, they won’t go to sleep and getting them to sleep is painful.
A midwife I know has two great tricks: She gently strokes down a baby’s nose. The baby closes her eyes as the finger passes over and slowly the constant closing becomes quite appealing and baby keeps his eyes closed. The other is to rock baby quite fast and in a figure of eight, while holding the head to support him. This motion makes it difficult for your baby to focus on anything so he closes his eyes and then slowly drifts off. You could try the calming essential oils here as well, but make sure you use the age-appropriate oils.
Is your baby uncomfortable?
Look for little things like a scratchy label, itchy clothes, a hair wrapped around a finger, toe or penis, doesn’t like being held a certain way… so many little things could be irritating your little one and they are just trying to tell you so that mama can make everything better again.
Does your baby have an intolerance for something that you are eating?
This is the hardest one on the list so work your way through the above first. You will need to figure it out by process of elimination and the list is long: Wheat, garlic, citrus and dairy seem to be the most common. Then move on to: soy, corn, spices (curry, chili pepper and cinnamon), large quantities of chocolate (argh! Not chocolate!!!), cucumbers, bell peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, broccoli and cauliflower.
Other medical issues
And lastly, medical issues which need a professional to diagnose and assist with. Many mums have stories where they just knew something was not right and doctor after doctor said there was nothing wrong with their baby, just colic, but the mum persevered until the right doctor was found and the true issue was diagnosed. If your gut tells you that something is not right- persevere! Keep going until a real reason is diagnosed, not the brush-away ‘colic’ diagnosis.
Don’t do it alone
You’re not alone in this! Make sure you accept offers of help, ask for help, join mum groups, join Facebook groups, talk to you doctor… but reach out and ask for help.