As a first-time mom, there is nothing more worrisome for me than to see my baby crying. Even after I had changed his nappies, burped him, made sure he was fed, didn’t have fever, kept the room at a comfortable temperature, and basically addressed everything I thought he needed–he still wouldn’t stop crying. Luckily, throughout all the crying fests, my husband has always been very supportive and incredibly calm.
After a lot of trial and errors with our newborn, we were able to learn more about our baby, and eventually discover ways to soothe him when he cries. Take note, the keywords are to know your baby, and of course to always make sure that all his needs are addressed, and if it’s a cry that’s out of the ordinary, even if you’re a first-time mom, always trust your instinct and ask an expert’s advice immediately.
But if all needs are met, and there are no medical issues to worry about, here are a few things you can try to soothe your crying baby (especially during those early morning crying sessions).
For newborns, swaddles can be your lifesavers! This is because swaddling recreates the security of being inside the mother’s womb. As Dr. Harvey Karp of the faculty of USC School of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Founder & CEO of Happiest Baby, stated that the first three months of a baby’s life can be treated as a fourth trimester, and imitating the experience of being in a mother’s womb can tap the baby’s calming reflex, which can help soothe your crying baby. Just make sure to swaddle just right–not too tight and not too loose.
We’ve all heard about using white noise to soothe your baby, and there are even products you can buy to create this certain sound. I used ask myself, why would I need it? Wouldn’t my baby prefer to sleep in peace and quiet? But apparently, a very logical explanation is that, inside the womb, it’s not really a very quiet place to begin with. Babies hear different sorts of sounds–such as your blood flow–so the shushing or white noise can actually help provide a more comfortable environment for your little one. For my baby boy, the sound of my husband and I shushing, the sound of the electric fan, and the noise our air conditioner made was enough to soothe him. But you can also try other ways, such as purchasing a white noise maker from your trusted baby stores.
On some days, shushing worked for us, but there were also times when it didn’t. On those days when it didn’t, we opted to go for lullabies. Did you know that even before your baby was born, your voice was already a part of his little world? Your voice is something that is familiar to your baby, and you can try singing or humming calming tunes to your little one to help soothe him or her.
According to Dr. Karp, “Life in the womb is very jiggly.” And while slowly swaying your baby to sleep is good, he recommends “Fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant mid-squawk. My patients call this movement the ‘Jell-O head jiggle.’ To do it, always support the head and neck, keep your motions small, and move no more than one inch back and forth.”
My husband does the whole ‘Jell-O jiggle’ production with our little boy, but we’ve discovered that with me, he usually prefers the slow swaying and just usually wants to be held closely. Sometimes however, he also likes sleeping on my husband’s chest on the side where he can hear his heart beating. Heartbeats are also familiar sounds, and pretty much like lullabies to your newborn. It may take some experimentation, but both you and your husband should figure out what works best for your little one.
Given that babies are born with a sucking reflex for feeding, it also provides them comfort to be sucking on something. A pacifier can be a useful tool to help calm your baby, or you can opt to let him suck on his finger. My baby refused the pacifier and would often suck his fingers. There were also times when I would let myself (my breasts) be sort of a human pacifier. Although this was not entirely recommended by our pediatrician, I basically went with my gut feel on what would give comfort to my little one. The finger sucking eventually died down, and we are also slowly weaning from making mommy a human pacifier too.
A crying baby can be really worrisome or frustrating at times–most especially for first-time parents–which is why it’s very important to keep your cool no matter what. Our doctor once told us that one of the reasons babies fuss is that they don’t feel the security and stability they should be getting from their parents or guardian. So if you panic when your baby cries or when you let your emotions get the best of you, all the more he’ll feel insecure and cry. Researchers also found out that baby’s feelings sometimes mirror that of their mom’s–so the more frustrated you get, the more he’ll probably feel the tension and won’t relax either. Next time your baby cries, try to stay calm, think happy thoughts, and pass on those positive vibes to your little one.
Don’t be afraid to wake your husband up when it’s getting a bit too difficult for you to handle, or ask help from your mom (or anyone you’re comfortable asking help from). If you feel the need to, step out of the room, take deep breaths, and maybe squeeze in a little shut-eye. It’s important for you to take out the frustration, and to rest as well, in order to give your baby the best care you can.
Bottom line is, although the internet and other people may provide heaps of information on tried and tested ways to calm your baby, at the end of the day, babies are tiny human beings who have their own personalities and preferences. And although there are certain approaches that may work for a majority, they may not necessarily work for your baby–and that’s completely okay. Your baby may need just one of the above mentioned tricks, or maybe all of them, but nonetheless, learn to read your baby and to trust yourself as a parent–because really, the mere fact that you’re looking for ways to soothe your baby means that you’re doing a terrific job.