A baby only has one way of communicating - crying. Everything
is incredibly new to them, every feeling, every experience.
Sometimes, for a new parent, it can be very difficult to work
out exactly what your baby is crying about. However there are
some basics that you can check if your baby cries. It may be one
or a number of them are making the baby cry.
The best place to start is the diaper. If it's wet or soiled,
then the baby will be uncomfortable and start crying. If the
diaper needs changing, then change it. More often than not, that
will solve the problem. Some babies don't like having their
diaper changed, and will often cry even more. Mostly it's
because they don't like the sensation of being uncovered. So
change the diaper as quickly and smoothly as you can, to
minimize distress. Then cover the baby with a blanket or
clothing, so that the baby feels comfortable again.
Babies also like being warm. However it's also possible to
overdress a baby, so be sensible about it. When checking the
baby, look for very red skin, and see if the baby is sweating.
Either of these signs suggest the baby is almost certainly too
hot. A good rule of thumb with dressing your baby is one layer
more than you're wearing. If the baby is too hot or cold, then
adjust clothing or covers to suit the temperature.
is your baby hungry? Is it a while since the last feed? Did the
baby maybe feed a little less than normal at the last feed, and
so perhaps is hungry quicker this time around? Try nursing or
offering a bottle. Babies do need to eat frequently, because
they are growing so quickly. Often the action of sucking helps
to soothe the baby, even if they're not very hungry. Babies are
very good at knowing when they've had enough, and will stop. So
don't worry too much about overfeeding. The baby will stop
crying once he's not hungry any more.
After feeding, many
babies develop gas. The baby's digestive system is only just
developing, and eating is a very new experience. Sometimes
crying means the baby has some gas rumbling around in the tummy,
and needs to be burped. Put a cloth on your shoulder, and hold
the baby against your shoulder so that his stomach is against
the front of your shoulder. Make sure the head is well forward,
or support the head if you can. Rub his back firmly, in a
circular motion. This helps to put pressure on the digestive
system both front and back, and often produces the required
burping. Some gentle patting may also help, but be very careful
if you decide to do this - babies are very delicate.
may even find that just going for a walk with the baby on your
shoulder helps. Babies seem to like movement, probably because
they're used to being bounced around in the womb. But also,
being held close to a parent is very soothing for a baby. Babies
love to be held and cuddled - despite some suggestions to the
contrary, you can't hold your baby too much.
also find it very soothing to be swaddled in a small blanket.
Swaddling involves wrapping the blanket around the baby's body
fairly tightly. The arms are held close to the baby. In some
ways this feels a lot like the womb to a baby, because they were
tightly enclosed in there too. Sometimes the sudden experience
of being able to move around can distress a baby. Your health
professional should be able to teach you how to swaddle the baby
effectively. It's important to make sure, though, that the head
and neck remain uncovered.
Once you've gone through the
list above - check the diaper, check the baby's temperature, try
a feed or a burp, and swaddle the baby - and the baby's still
crying, then trying holding the baby close and making a rhythmic
"shhhh" sound near the baby's ear. If it sounds a little bit
like a wave on the beach, great. That's the sort of sound the
baby heard in the womb, and is often very reassuring and
soothing. Some babies are very sensitive to noise, and an
average home produces a lot of noise! You can even try a radio
tuned off station, so all you can hear is "white noise".
Over time, you'll find that you begin to recognise the
difference between your baby's cries, and so probably won't need
to go right through the checklist every time baby cries. However
if at any time you suspect your baby may be sick or in pain, or
if he's still crying even after checking all of the above
things, it's always best to visit your health care professional,
just to make sure everything is okay.
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