Tips on how to soothe your crying infant
Written by: Laura Baginski
Photo credit: Flickr/acheron0
Most expectant parents understand that after their baby is born, she will cry. A lot. But how do you cope with the stress of hearing your baby cry, and how will you know whether your baby's crying is normal?
Nancy Mork, LCSW, of the Erikson Institue's Fussy Baby Network, offers some great insight on infant crying below.
How do you know if your child has colic, rather than a normal baby who cries a lot?
All babies cry, but some certainly cry more than others! The definition of colic is the Rule of 3’s: more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days in a week, for at least 3 weeks. Babies with colic typically will be inconsolable in the evening and have a higher pitched cry—it often sounds like a pain cry. You might notice that they turn purple when they cry. Although holding more can help, it often does not stop the crying.
Is there a difference in the cries babies make depending on their needs?
Yes and no! It really depends on the age of your baby. You really can’t distinguish the cry in a newborn—with sound alone. Looking at your baby usually helps parents to be able to distinguish the cries. Context also helps, if you know that it is almost time to eat, that helps! The one cry that you can distinguish is pain: It is higher pitched, loud, with sudden onset.
What are some coping mechanisms for parents who are on their last nerve with their crying infant?
Crying is probably one of the most gut-wrenching parts of parenting. Most parents find the crying to be stressful and frustrating. It is important to know that it is always ok to put your baby down, in a safe place, no matter what. Taking care of yourself is key. Get support from family, friends or even Fussy Baby Network. If it is the middle of the night, it is good to know that there is a hotline available for you to call, 1-866-364-6667, which has trained counselors ready to listen and offer support. You are not alone in these feelings and no one should parent alone.
Taking a break is also really important. It doesn’t have to be long, but having someone you trust watch your baby for even just 30 minutes is crucial. Remembering to breathe—taking three conscious breaths—can also help.
What expectations should expectant parents have about how much their infant will cry?
Believe it or not, it is totally normal for infants to cry up to three hours a day! That’s a lot of crying. It helps to know that all babies go through a normal crying curve. Babies actually cry more at around 5-6 weeks than they did the first few weeks. Although all babies are different, at around 12 weeks babies are crying much less.
Nancy Mork, LCSW, is Fussy Baby Network’s associate director of direct services and clinical coordinator. She provides home visiting services to families, and has worked with families, young children and infants for more than 20 years. Her areas of expertise include colic, sleep in the first year and postpartum mood disorders.