How to Help a Crying Baby

By Hils Robson

Crying is normal in babies; it’s a primal instinct. Even chimps cry during the first few months of their lives and it happens in every country and in every culture (although less in countries who wear their babies more).

I believe that babies feel first then think, so try and spend as much time as you can getting to know your baby’s cries. It’s the best spent time, it really is, and the more you watch their cues, the more you can help your baby before they become distressed.

It can be very tough if you have a baby who cries a lot. ⅕ babies are highly sensitive and you may just have one of these babies but here are a few little tips which might help.

GO PRIMITIVE – Sounds crazy I know, but if you let yourself go back in time a bit, then looking after a baby was very different! Forget trying to get a teenie baby to fit in with our modern schedules and expectations and see them for what they are: a little person new into the world who needs looking after. Tribal babies are carried for most of the day and mums can usually pre-empt their babies every move due to learning their cues and noises. 

DON’T BLAME THEM: Babies don’t choose to cry; it’s primal and they are trying to tell you something. They NEED you for their survival; they are communicating with you the best way they can as they don’t know that the noise of the soup blender isn’t a wild animal coming for them! They are trying to survive and when they cry, they are alerting you, they need your help, their crying reflex is essential!

YOU ARE A FAMILY NOW – Every time your baby cries, it’s a chance to get to know each other even more. You are growing together and you need to be there for each other, hard as that may be sometimes. Be supportive and help each other throughout this time.

LISTEN – What is your baby trying to tell you? Where are they right now? What do they want from you? Maybe just a cuddle. It’s important for your baby to know they are being listened to, as the more you do, the more secure your baby will grow up. They will know you will always be there to listen to them.

Babies don’t understand what’s going on but they do know when something is wrong and are alerting you to this.

YOU CAN’T SPOIL YOUR BABY – Fact. Relax in the knowledge that it’s impossible to spoil your baby through love and attention. It’s a myth. Babies who are cuddled lots, grow up to be healthier, kinder, happier, etc. Psychologists advise the more the better on the cuddling front as this will affect the brain and is going to grow for the rest of their lives. From 6 months onwards however, they understand ’cause and effect’!!

IT’S NOT A REFLECTION – It’s tempting to think your parenting skills are to blame for a baby’s crying but remember that it is NORMAL for a baby to cry for up to 3 hours a day. This can happen in all cultures, in all countries.

HOW WOULD YOU TREAT A FRIEND/PARTNER – No one wants to be ignored if they are upset and babies are no different. They have feelings and sometimes a good cry while being cuddled can help. Babies under 3 months can’t self regulate – it’s impossible as they don’t have the ability, so we need to treasure them and be there.

TAKE THE TIME Watch your baby. Take time and be patient – work out why you think your baby is crying. Maybe have a notebook handy. Is it after feeds? Is it in the morning? Is it during sleep? This will give you a better clue as to whether there is a pattern. Look for the cause of their crying first.

CHECK LIST: Hungry, lonely, sleepy, scared, tired, over stimulated, bored or just simply wants to be with you and be close.

ARE THEY HUNGRY? – The most common reason your baby will cry is because they are hungry. It’s a basic need and they are letting you know the only way they know how. Look for the early signs so you don’t miss them and they have got agitated, fist in mouth, rooting, etc. Don’t be surprised how often they will be hungry. Even if you feel you have just fed them, they have teeny tummies and are growing fast.

DON’T RUSH ANYTHING – You don’t want them to feel you are stressed so whatever it is you are doing, whether undressing them or preparing a feed, stay chilled and this will relax them.

ARE THEY THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE? – Babies feel the cold and lose body heat very easily as they can’t regulate their own internal body temperature. Equally, they can overheat so make sure they feel ok. Babies’ hands and feet are usually the last place to get circulated and so the best place to check is the back of the neck or their body as you may be confused if you hold their hands/feet. 

PLAY YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC – If you are relaxed, then your baby will feel happier and so it doesn’t have to be lullabies. Put on whatever music you feel like listening to, turn up the volume, enjoy and breathe.

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