During the later stages of pregnancy, us Moms to be mentally prepare ourselves on how to survive sleepless nights, juggle regular diaper changes and even how to cope with the crying, but what if your baby cries nearly all the time?! How do you know what is wrong and what can you do to settle and calm your baby?
There are various reasons why your baby may be crying; here are the obvious suspects and what you can do to soothe them.
One of the most common reasons I baby will be crying is because they are hungry – and in the early days this can be a LOT, even if it feels like you’ve only just nursed or given a bottle. As a newborn, your baby’s tummy is really, really tiny, meaning that it can’t hold much at a time. As a result, you may find that your baby shows signs of hunger more often than you would expect. If you are feeding on demand or responsive feeding, you may find that they aren’t on the breast for long, but then want to go back on very soon after. As hard as this can be to navigate, they will soon establish more of a nursing routine.
As a newborn, the visible cues that your baby is tired are much harder to recognise. Just in the same way that we get a bit grumpy when we’ve not had enough sleep, your baby can become fractious and upset if they are overtired or even overstimulated.
As they get bigger, you may start to notice repeated behaviours that indicate your baby is ready for a nap and keeping a close track of these can help prevent your baby getting upset through exhaustion. Cues can include simple things like going quiet and still, staring into space or fussing, or may be more obvious signs such as yawns or rubbing at their eyes or ears. They may even audibly moan or sigh.
Gas / Trapped Wind / Colic
If your baby has trapped wind, gas or even painful colic, this can be another common cause of crying. With colic, you will notice that your baby may cry more loudly, appear visually more frustrated and may also go red in the face or flushed. She may pull up her knees or thrash around her arms, and this is probably because her tummy is hurting or uncomfortable.
There are a variety of ways to help soothe a baby with colic, including medication if necessary. When it comes to preventing the less troublesome gas and wind, keep your baby upright for around 30 minutes after a feed where possible, rubbing and tapping their back to expel any trapped air. If you are bottle feeding, hold the bottle at an angle, ensuring that the teat is full of milk to avoid them gulping large amounts of air as they feed. If you are breastfeeding and have a particularly strong let down, you may want to pause mid feed to wind them before resuming.
Newborn babies aren’t able to regulate their temperatures, meaning they depend fully on you to make sure they are warm enough. In those early newborn days this means diaper changes can lead to full on melt downs, but these can usually quickly be remedied by getting them snuggled back up and warm as soon as possible. Skin to skin is also great for helping regulate their temperature, whilst also providing the reassuring sound of your heart beat as they lie upon your chest.
Another obvious reason your baby is crying is if they’ve soiled or wet their diaper, again usually because this can leave them feeling cold or uncomfortable.
Whilst the scent is usually a pretty good indicator (nothing that a simple sniff won’t identify!) regular diaper changes are also recommended to avoid skin irritation too.
Finally, it’s important not to forget that the world is a very alien place to a newborn and as a result, sometimes they just want to be close to you. Whether that’s a comforting cuddle on your chest, being held in your arms or simply lying by your side, the reassurance that your close proximity, scent and voice will provide shouldn’t be underestimated!
The more you get to know your baby, the more you learn about their personalities, and the more obvious each of these reasons for crying will be. Your baby will learn to communicate with you, even through subtle body movements, responses and reactions; helping you to understand with a little more confidence why they might be upset. In the meantime, there may be a little trial and error along the way!