“Why Does My Baby Cry? Understanding the Reasons and Effective Soothing Techniques”
As a new or experienced parent, you may find yourself asking, “Why does my baby cry?” You might even find yourself googling this at 2am. Crying is a natural form of communication for infants, and it can be a challenging experience for both parents and babies. Interesting fact – all infant mammals cry, and human babies are no different!
In this evidence-based blog, we will explore the various reasons behind your baby’s tears and provide you with effective techniques to soothe them.
One of the most common reasons for a baby’s cry is hunger. Newborns have small stomachs and require frequent feedings. It is essential to recognise the signs of hunger, such as sucking on their fists or smacking their lips, nipple diving. Responding to your baby on their early feeding cues and feeding your baby on demand can help prevent excessive crying due to hunger. For more information on responsive feeding see our responsive parenting course or responsive feeding blog.
Babies are highly sensitive to their environment, and discomfort can cause them to cry. Some common sources of discomfort include wet or dirty nappies, tight clothing, or extreme temperatures. Regularly checking and addressing these issues can help keep your baby comfortable and reduce their crying.
Just like adults, babies need sufficient sleep to stay happy and healthy. Overtiredness can lead to fussiness and crying. Recognising your baby’s early sleep cues can aid in soothing them and encouraging them to sleep can help avoiding crying due to overtiredness, creating a calm environment and atmosphere can help aid sleep.
Need for Physical Contact:
Babies thrive on touch and physical contact with their caregivers. They may cry because they long for closeness, security, or reassurance. Techniques such as skin-to-skin contact, gentle rocking, or baby wearing (in a sling or carrier) can provide comfort and a sense of security.
Colic and Gas:
Colic refers to excessive crying in otherwise healthy infants. It typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening and may last for hours. While the exact cause of colic is unknown, it is believed to be related to gastrointestinal discomfort. Techniques like gentle tummy massages, burping after feedings, and using anti-colic bottles may help alleviate symptoms.
Babies are still adjusting to the world around them, and overstimulation can cause distress. Bright lights, loud noises, strong smells or crowded environments can sensory overload and overwhelm them. Creating a calm and quiet space, reducing excessive stimuli, and engaging in gentle activities can help your baby feel more comfortable.
Illness or Discomfort:
Sometimes, crying can indicate an underlying health issue. If your baby’s crying is persistent, accompanied by a fever, changes in appetite, or other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult a pediatrician. They can evaluate your baby’s health and provide appropriate guidance.
Soothing refers to the process of providing comfort and relief to a baby, helping them regulate their emotions and achieve a sense of calm. It plays a vital role in fostering emotional well-being and bonding between caregivers and infants. While every baby is unique and may respond differently to various soothing techniques, understanding some key principles can be helpful.
Effective Soothing Techniques:
- Hold and cuddle your baby: Physical contact promotes a sense of security and comfort. It releases the hormone oxytocin which helps baby to feel calm and regulated.
- Utilise gentle rocking or swaying motions: Mimicking the movement in the womb can be soothing for infants.
- White noise or soft music: Gentle sounds can create a calming environment mimics the heart beat heard in the womb.
- Use a dummy: Sucking on a dummy releases oxytocin and can help soothe and satisfy your baby.
- Try baby massage: Gentle massages can relax your baby and relieve tension.
- Provide a warm bath: A warm bath can be a soothing experience for both you and your baby.
- Offer a change of scenery: Sometimes a change of environment can distract and calm a fussy baby.
Understanding the reasons behind your baby’s crying can help you respond appropriately and provide the necessary soothing techniques. Remember that every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. By paying attention to your baby’s cues, responding with love and patience, and seeking support when needed, you can create a calm and nurturing environment for your little one.