Here are nine reasons why babies cry and how to soothe them.
WORDS STEPHANIE CLARISSA
There is no denying that babies are the most adorable and innocent but as they don’t come with a handbook, looking after them can sometimes prove to be a challenge – especially when they cry. As parents, you have to be prepared and well informed on reasons why. Here are nine reasons to help you decipher some common problems and most importantly how to soothe them.
Hunger (Midnight Cries)
Hunger is one of the most common reasons why your baby will cry, especially for newborns. The younger your baby is, the more likely it is that they are hungry. Dr Vyda S. Chai, a clinical psychologist at Th!nk Psychological Services reminds parents that your baby’s stomach is small and cannot hold very much; hence it will not take long before it empties. Dr Vanessa von Auer, clinical psychologist at VA Psychology Center also recommends picking up your baby to give them a cuddle, rock or swing them until they settle down. For newborn babies, you can usually swaddle them.
Babies may be tired and are always trying to figure out how to put themselves to sleep. If they do not receive enough sleep they can get cranky. Dr Chai explains that parents have to teach their baby to self-soothe himself gradually to sleep.
You can also try scheduling sleep cycles after three months and increase feeds at night
to help prepare your baby to sleep better through the night.
You can always set the tone for the environment and implement it along with a sleep ritual to unwind your baby before bedtime and let them sleep more comfortably. A warm bath, changing fresh diapers, turning down of room, singing some songs while patting the baby a little to help him drift off to sleep are some effective methods. The touch therapy also works for babies as some may feel like they need extra attention to feel better. Giving your baby a massage can also help to relax and soothe him.
Overstimulation vs Under Stimulation
If your baby has received a lot of attention and has been held the entire day, he may become over-stimulated. This is when you should take your baby somewhere calm and quiet to help him settle down. Sometimes backing out of the room helps to prepare your baby for sleep, naps and rest. Under stimulation happens when babies do not like being too quiet. Hence, it is important to turn on an air purifier or a fan to create some white noise resembling what babies hear in the womb. There is a rule of thumb to follow, where overstimulation should not be practised when your baby is tired or when bedtime is near. However, a maturing baby can actually regulate and change gears, thereafter settle to sleep after some play.
Stomach Problems/Colic and Gas
If your baby often fusses and cries right after being fed, he may have some sort of stomach pain. Babies swallow air when they breastfeed or suck from a bottle, and this may cause discomfort if the air is not being released. Some babies are intensely bothered by having air in their tummy and may need to be burped.
Needs to Burp
Following from the stomach to colic and gas, sucking-swallowing-breathing synchrony matures as your baby feeds on milk. It is normal to burp and it should get better with constant feeding. When maturing to a toddler, they can continue to drink, swallow, talk and breathe with precision. This is when feed burping is no longer necessary.
Seeking Comfort and Wants to be Held
Babies need a lot of cuddling, and it is important to acknowledge the fact that they like to see their parents’ faces, hear their voices, and listen to their heartbeats. Dr Chai states that babies can even detect their unique smell. Crying can be their way of asking to be held close. Whatever you believe in, touch is primitive and Alvin, a therapist at Kidz-Pediatric Occupational Therapy Consultants explains that it is needed for security as the mother-infant bond through touch is vital for development.
The environment needs to be looked at to fit your baby’s sensory needs and development. The baby’s sensory profile needs to be looked at and acknowledged to help caregivers provide the right input, for example, some babies may cry when in a humid environment.
Babies are also sensitive to changes in temperature when putting on or
taking off clothes and bathing. Hence, it is always important to check on the room temperature,
ensuring it is right for your child.
Teething is a normal process that all babies go through. The problem happens only when you notice your baby’s excess need to bite and prolonged drooling. It can mean that he is feeling some discomfort, hence it is wise to see a paediatrician or dentist. Home remedies such as gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad can be soothing. You can also ask your dentist or paediatrician for a pacifier or teething ring.
A Dirty Diaper
Most babies feel discomfort and cry when they have a full diaper. Alvin states that it is a red flag for sensory issues especially the touch or tactile domain when they soil themselves and lie on it without taking notice. Babies need a lot of help here with constant nappy changes.