Is it unhealthy for my baby to be crying all the time?
Despite the panic, it might instill in parents, most experts agree that crying is perfectly natural for your newborn baby. In fact, babies can easily spend between 2-3 hours a day crying without any big cause for concern, and there are a few valid reasons for this.
Crying allows a baby to call your attention to his or her needs, block out any over stimulus in their immediate environment, and release a little pent-up energy – hey, it’s a full-time job being a baby!
Regardless of the purpose crying serves, a baby crying can be a huge stress on mom and dad. So, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why your baby might be crying and what you can try in order to soothe them.
Responding early to signs of hunger can go a long way in lessening the length and severity of your baby’s cries, so it is good to know what signs of hunger to look out for! For example, is your baby crying while showing signs of the following?
- Finger sucking
- Rooting (opening his or her mouth as if ready to feed)
If so, try soothing your baby’s needs by offering your breast or a feeding bottle. If your baby doesn’t seem interested in either, then perhaps he or she isn’t hungry but is just crying out for something to suck on instead.
The action of sucking actually has a calming effect on babies. It slows their heart rate and puts them in a state of ease. If this is the case, you can try using a pacifier or offering a clean finger for the baby to suck on.
If your baby is crying and making strained facial expressions, it may be a sign that he or she is uncomfortable or in pain. In the first few months, babies are not capable of self-soothing (although this will come with age, don’t worry!), so it’s important to give your baby the comfort they need when they ask for it.
Gas and constipation are common reasons for discomfort that are easy to treat with the right techniques. If you suspect your baby is gassy, try burping them over your shoulder. You can also lay your baby on your lap and gently rub their belly.
To further stimulate gas release or poop time, gently bring baby’s knees in toward their belly and back again, repeating for as long as is necessary. In acute cases of constipation, you may even want to try a gentle laxative like MICROLAX. While your baby is in a relaxed position, insert a drop of MICROLAX on the neck of its tube, gently into their rectum. Then, allow for about 5 minutes for the stool to soften.
Boredom / Overstimulation
When babies have had enough and are feeling overstimulated, you will know about it from their cry. However, the opposite is also true. Sometimes your baby will want to move or just get some attention, and they will let you know through their cry.
You can respond to both by picking your baby up and walking around or by creating a daily routine that can help both you and the baby to fall into a comfortable rhythm of rest and activity.
You can do this by taking daily short drives or walks outside or letting your baby sleep near (never on) the laundry machine while you’re busy in the vicinity. Babies find these low repetitive sounds soothing because they are reminded of the sound of your heart, like while they were in your womb.
A wind-down routine before bed can also help your baby to feel close to you. So, you might want to consider including a bathing and massage ritual in the evenings, using scents and products that help to soothe your baby before bed. One example is with the help of mild oils and powders like those in the Johnson’s & Johnson’s bedtime range.
Colic is a fairly common condition that 1 out of 5 babies may experience during the ages of anywhere between a few weeks old and 4 months old. This is when your baby cries intensely for 3 or more hours a day, 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks.
Is your baby crying excessively? If you suspect that your baby may be colicky, it’s understandable that you might be feeling totally overwhelmed. However, it’s important to remember that colic is not uncommon, your baby is not being “bad”, and that it is in no way a reflection of you as a parent.
Fortunately, colic is something that your baby should naturally outgrow by the age of 5 months old. Unfortunately, because experts have still not found any official reason for colic, it can be difficult to provide a definitive remedy. But try not to panic, as there are still some things you can try.
As briefly mentioned above, babies love repetitive, soothing sounds that remind them of being inside the womb. This could be the sound of a washing machine, vacuum cleaner, fan, or white noise recording.
Other babies might prefer the secure feeling of being swaddled or held against the skin to hear your heartbeat.
The vibration of rocking, walking, or driving with your baby might be helpful, too. Or you could even try laying your baby down and gently rubbing or tapping their back.
If you are concerned about colic or find it is having a negative impact on you and your ability to care for your baby, it may be best to contact your pediatrician or health care practitioner.
In addition, call your doctor right away if your baby is crying excessively and;
- stops eating and drinking
- stops peeing or have blood in their poops
- is vomiting
- has a high temperature of more than 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F)
- How to recognize when your baby’s crying is affecting your health and wellbeing
You can’t give from an empty cup. Remember to take care of yourself too – your baby’s wellbeing will benefit from it. If you have people in your life who can help you care for your baby, don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
Take breaks when you can and try and cultivate some time to be alone.
Getting some exercise every day also goes a long way, helping you to de-stress and release those feel-good endorphins. If you like walking, you could bring the baby along too. Get out of the house, put some headphones on, do some yoga, or practice some deep breathing exercises.
The important thing is to find something that brings you joy, peace, and fulfillment. And to bring balance into your life with tools for self-care. Once you’ve nurtured yourself, you’ll feel far better equipped to tune into your baby’s needs, and to nurture them in return.