How to Soothe Your Crying Baby

If your baby cries constantly throughout the night and doesn’t respond to your efforts to quiet her, con­sider the following possibilities:

  • Diaper change. Your first step should always be to check whether your baby needs a change of diaper, or whether a diaper pin has become unfastened and is sticking into her. The chances of either of these causing regular crying throughout the night are remote.
  • Health check. Ruling out any physical problems is always sensible. Although your baby may seem perfectly healthy, especially if she is very settled during the day, she might have a medical problem. A thorough examination by your pediatrician will reassure you.
  • Colic. This is a term used by doctors to describe pain in the stomach caused by spasms of the tummy muscles. Colic is thought to occur only in infants of three months or younger. But not everyone is convinced about the existence of colic. The explanation sounds good, and it’s a plausible way to account for a young baby’s distress. But colic is impossible to verify—you can’t be certain that your baby has stomach pains.

  • Gas. Some people think that a baby’s crying may be caused by an excess of gas in her stomach, since a baby who cries constantly releases enormous belches quite regularly. Yet this doesn’t mean that it’s the build-up of gas that caused her to cry. On the contrary, some argue that the very act of continuous crying makes a baby suck in vast amounts of air. A loud expulsion of gas can just as likely be the result of cry­ing, not the cause of it.
  • Child’s diet. Some professionals claim a link exists between food additives—used as colorings and preservatives—and un­settled behavior in children, but the evidence on this point is unclear. Even so, it is possible that a crying baby may be aller­gic to milk formula, for example, so a change is worth trying.
  • Mother’s diet. If you are breast-feeding take a look at your own diet. Infants can be affected by mom’s consumption of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, spices, chocolate, alcohol, and other strong-tasting foods.

If you have ruled out these possibilities, but your baby still cries throughout the night, then you may have to broaden your perspective. Crying babies create anxiety in their parents, and this can become a vicious circle. Parents who automatically assume their baby will wake up crying will be tense and agitat­ed at the prospect of another horrendous night. Your baby may sense this tension and react to it by becoming tense and tearful. Your own anxiety caused by anticipating your baby’s crying could actually play a part in causing the behavior you dread most. That’s why calmness is extremely important when man­aging a crying baby—make a big effort to stay relaxed at night, despite your knowledge of what almost certainly awaits you.

A possible explanation of your baby’s regular crying at night is that it is attention-seeking behavior and that she wants to be with you. If this is the underlying explanation for your baby’s crying, consider ignoring her. Of course, no parent feels com­fortable leaving a baby alone when she is in tears, but you must use your own judgement. (If you do adopt this strategy, use a monitor so you can hear her, even though you don’t go into her room to see her.) Stick to your plan for at least three weeks, rather than giving up after one or two nights. Ear plugs are a wonder­ful invention (just be sure that you can still hear your baby).

Some babies cry constantly for a completely different rea­son—perhaps because their emotional attachment to their moth­er (or mother-substitute) isn’t as close as it might be. An infant who does not receive emotional warmth from her parents during the early part of her life will be very unhappy and cry frequently.

Getting short-term relief from a crying baby is always a valuable practical measure. Distancing yourself from your howl­ing infant, if only for a short while, can make the world seem a brighter place. Never hesitate to use family or friends as tempo­rary caregivers for your baby. A few hours away can have a very positive effect.

Filed Under: Family & Relationships


About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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