Crying. Your baby will cry. Babies cry – it’s what they do. And anyone who tells you that their baby didn’t cry much has a very poor memory! Millions of people everyday google the phrase ‘why is my baby crying?’. I have to admit, I did it once (and actually I’ve just done it again now but for research purposes!).
Here are a few crying baby facts for you….
A baby can cry for 12 hours and yet be completely healthy (Fertleman, 2018)
There is a change in a mother’s brain behaviour within 5 seconds of hearing her own baby cry (Bornstein, 2017)
80-90% of babies cry for 15-60 minutes with no obvious reason (whattoexpect.com, 2018)
Why do babies cry? They cry because they are babies and this is their way of communicating. Listen carefully to your baby’s cries and you’ll soon notice that there are different cries. Trust your instincts when interpreting the cries. There’s always some “helpful” dear in the supermarket who points out that your whimpering baby is hungry when really you know they are just fed up of sitting in their car seat as you dash about grabbing nappies and dry shampoo.
The five main reasons babies cry are straightforward and generally pretty easy to address.
1) Baby is hungry
2) Baby is tired
3) Baby has wind
4) Baby has a dirty nappy
5) Baby has some other discomfort – a too tight nappy, an itchy label, too hot etc….
But what happens when you check all of the above and conclude none are the reason for the crying. Hmmm. Colic is a tough one. This is defined as 3 hours of crying, for more than 3 days in a week, for 3 weeks. The baby is healthy and there is no clear reason for their crying, they just cry. This can often happen in the evenings. The ‘witching hour’ I suppose is pretty similar but isn’t defined as colic because it’s only an hour or two each day (‘only’!).
We all know now that leaving babies to cry it out is detrimental to their physical and mental health. But this then leaves the questions – what do I do when my baby cries for no apparent reason for hours at a time?
First, please acknowledge that this is not your fault. You are doing a great job of caring for this baby and if you are struggling to soothe a crying baby, it does not mean you are a bad parent. We’ve all been there. We have all looked at our purple-faced, crying baby and uttered in exasperation ‘why won’t you stop crying?’.
Secondly, if it gets too much, just take a moment. Place baby down gentle somewhere safe, maybe even step into the hallway. Take a breath or too. I remember telling my baby that I needed a wee and escaping to the bathroom just for a second to gather myself and give myself a quick pep talk in the mirror. You can’t soothe another’s discomfort if you yourself are a stressed. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
Thirdly, think of your baby as a person not a baby. Remember your baby has complex emotional needs too. Perhaps your baby is crying because they are frightened, or worried, or upset. You cant massage a crying baby, but you can talk to your baby, listen to the cries and give lots of eye contact. Imagine your baby is telling you a story of something that happened earlier in the day. Reassure them, tell them you are listening. It is sometimes easy to fall into thinking of your baby as an object of care and forget about their emotional needs. Sometimes we all have days when we just feel a bit ‘off’ and we don’t know why.
Finally, today is a new day. Think about the challenges of yesterday. Perhaps your baby always starts crying every evening at the same time. You could try timing baby massage for about an hour before you expect a crying episode to begin. If your baby has colic, keep doing the colic routine on their tummy – any new strategy takes a few days to have an effect so don’t expect miracles. Babies that receive regular massage cry less than those that don’t (IAIM, 2016). Remember that all the oxytocin that you produce whilst massaging your baby helps you feel less stressed too. Keep calm and massage the baby.
If you’d like to know more about baby massage and it’s role in preventing crying, contact me with a question. Join me in a class in Edinburgh or Midlothian to learn more and see the benefits for yourself.Contact
You can visit iaimbabymassage.co.uk to find out about IAIM Baby Massage classes in your area.
Learn more about the benefits of Baby Massage here
Read more about my classes here
FAQ – What if my baby cries during the class? I’d be surprised if they didn’t! Babies cry to communicate with you. The cry might be to tell you they’ve had enough massage or they didn’t like a particular stroke; or quite simply, they need a sleep or a feed or a nappy change or whatever. IAIM Baby Massage classes are baby-led so you do exactly as your baby needs. The classes are 90 minutes long, with two massage sections so there is plenty of chance to learn the techniques even if you are answering a baby’s cry. I don’t stop the class for a baby that cries and there is no pressure to ‘shh’ a baby. I am a mum of three and I have attending my fair share of baby classes with a crying baby. The classes are relaxed, there is no judgement and there is a real emphasis on supporting each other. Please don’t feel that you can’t attend a baby class for fear of your baby crying; I know a lot of baby class instructors (baby massage or otherwise) and we all agree on this one. In fact, bringing your crying baby to a class could be the best thing you do – especially if you attend a class like baby massage where you can learn some ideas to soothe your baby, keep yourself calm and be supported by other mums. I do this job because I believe in baby massage as a wonderful tool, I love babies and I love supporting new parents. And no-one’s baby has ever cried as much as the parent told me they would!