A baby’s cry is one of nature’s loudest sounds. At eighty to eighty-five decibels, it is as loud as an unmuffled truck, not far below the pain threshold! Some babies cry more than others, those who do cry usually settle down within three to six months. This is a long time in the life of a new parent! It is easy to understand how these parents become desperate and frayed around the edges.
Babies have different cries…a grating scream, a constant whining, a miserable moaning, a shrill wail…all which can drive their parents mad. Some cry more during the day, only really settling when they are being fed or carried; others cry more at night, waking an unbelievable number of times. And some poor unfortunate parents have babies that cry day and night.
Mothers who are woken every hour or two by screaming, inconsolable babies soon become worn out. These babies seem to know, instinctively, the point at which their mothers are drifting into deep sleep! It is perfectly understandable, and not at all unusual, for both mother and baby to end up howling together in the early hours of the morning.
Crying is your baby’s first ‘language’ and mothers soon get to when a cry means ‘I’m hungry,’ ‘I’m wet and cold,’ ‘I’m hurting,’ or ‘Please pick me up, I want a cuddle, I’m bored.’ It is the many other cries and not knowing why they are crying that can be so frustrating…for mother, father and baby.
why is my baby crying? why do some babies cry a lot?
Your baby may be having a growth spurt; these happen at regular intervals during the first year…at three weeks, five to six weeks, three months and six months…and your baby will be hungrier then. Breastfed babies will want to feed more…often at a time when you thought life was getting easier. Spend a few days building up your milk supply and your baby will soon settle down.
Your baby may be colicky, especially if she started crying a few days after the birth, or she may be getting sick with an illness such as chickenpox or even a cold. She may be sensitive to cow’s milk…whether she is bottle-fed or breastfed. Ask your health visitor’s advice about changing to a soy or goat’s milk formula if you suspect your bottle-fed baby is sensitive to cow’s milk. If you are breastfeeding then your breastfeeding counselor can help you sort out what it is that you are eating that may be upsetting your baby.
She may be thirsty or wanting to comfort suck. Some babies become cranky when they are over-fed or thirsty. Offer a little water (on a spoon if you are breastfeeding and your baby is very little) if you suspect your baby is thirsty, or a pacifier if your baby just wants to suck…some Chamomile tea (unsweetened) if she is overtired and irritable or Fennel or Dill tea if her tummy is upset.
Some babies cry more when their parents are upset…especially if their mother is suffering from post-natal depression. A difficult birth, whether it was very long, very fast, premature, or a forceps or Cesaerean delivery…can leave some babies shocked and upset. A combination of homeopathy and cranial osteopathy can help these babies a lot.
what can mothers do?
Some mothers find their entire life is ruled by their baby’s crying and that they aren’t managing to get anything done. Your baby’s crying may make you feel frustrated and incompetent and like howling, as well. Let yourself have a good cry…it will help to release physical and emotional tension.
Most babies are soothed by being carried in a soft sling. Being close to you helps your baby to feel safe and secure, similar to when you carried them in the womb. They can hear your heartbeat and are lulled by your movements. This is a wonderful way to be able to continue with your activities while providing for your baby. Tribal mothers make good use of this wise method!
Have an evening out without the baby. Leave her with a trusted friend or relative who is calm and confident and has your telephone in case they can’t cope. Some babies need a change of company, too and will settle with someone else, especially if you have become tense and anxious.
get help if you are desperate
Get help if you are feeling guilty or blaming yourself for having a difficult baby, or if you end up howling, too often. Talk to a counselor or call one of the help lines listed below. You do not need to suffer on your own…it is a sign of strength to ask for help, not weakness or failure.
what about fathers?
Fathers can find it difficult to cope with their crying babies, too, feeling powerless to help and pushed out and neglected by their harassed partners. It is terribly important that partners make time for each other and to talk about what is happening so that they can comfort each other.
distractions for cry babies
NOISE: Play your baby the music you listened to when you were pregnant…or try a range of music to find out which your baby likes. Some enjoy loud rock music or Wagner operas, others prefer Chopin or folk music! Desperate mums have found that the vacuum cleaner or the food processor can soothe a screaming baby!
SIGHTS: Put your baby in front of a front-loading washing machine (or dryer)…some babies are mesmerized by the action. Put interesting things (pictures, hanging things, soft toys) in her cot and pram, and change them frequently.
MOVEMENT: Go for a car, bus or train ride. The movement sends some babies straight to sleep.
FRESH AIR: Get out in some fresh air. Some babies (and mothers) need a daily walk to feel relaxed…whatever the weather.
CHANGE OF SCENERY: Visit a friend or go shopping…some babies, and many more mothers, become cranky when bored.
GET INTO (NOT TOO) HOT WATER: Give your baby a warm bath if she likes it…by candlelight…or better still, have one with her! Be careful getting in and out of the bath with your baby, or better still ask a friend or partner to help.
Seek help if…
It is important that you ask your doctor to check that there isn’t anything wrong with your crying baby, especially if she was formerly contented. Her crying may signal an earache or sore throat or colic.
Observe your baby carefully and match her picture with one below. If you can’t or if the remedy you give doesn’t work, then take your baby to a professional homeopath who can prescribe on both of you to help with this stressful time in your lives.
Angry, impatient babies:
This baby is restless, angry and impatient. When she is hungry she wants to feed now. She is hard to please…asking for things that she doesn’t want once you give them to her, she may even throw them down. She wants to be carried and cries loudly when you stop moving or put her down. When angry she hits anyone who is carrying her. She cries more when she is in pain and/or when she is teething. Remedy: Chamomilla
Irritable, serious babies:
This baby is serious, irritable and difficult to live with. He knows what he wants and is cross if he doesn’t get it. He is especially irritable on waking in the morning or after a nap…when he kicks and screams. He sleeps well at night, but is miserable and cries all day. He has great trouble digesting his feeds and is very windy. Remedy: Lycopodium
Jumpy, nervous babies:
This is a clingy baby who hates downward movement and will scream on being rocked or even when put down in her cot. If she is asleep when you put her down she will wake up. She can wake screaming for no apparent reason. She is nervous, easily startled by sudden noises (such as sneezing or the hoover), even in her sleep. She cries a lot more before passing a stool and is cheerful afterwards. Remedy: Borax
Clingy, whiny babies:
This baby is whiny and clingy and wants to be carried all the time. He is a gentle baby who loves cuddles and attention and becomes miserable if he is separated from his mum and also if he is unwell or when he is teething. He cries more in a hot, stuffy atmosphere and is much happier in the fresh air. Remedy: Pulsatilla
Clingy, frightened babies:
This baby hasn’t recovered from the birth, is clingy, frightened and restless. She may have one or more the following fears: dark, water, animals, dogs and strangers. She has bad nightmares and wakes screaming, knowing no-one. Remedy: Stramonium
Discontented, sluggish babies:
This baby becomes worn out after a growth spurt. He is irritable, hard to please and sluggish. He doesn’t gain weight well and is thin and pale. He is especially miserable when he is teething…which seems to go on forever, without any results! Remedy: Calcarea phosphorica
Colicky, irritable babies:
This baby is irritable, difficult, restless and doesn’t want to play. She cries a lot, especially at night when she doesn’t want to sleep. She seems to survive on very little sleep…her parents, however, do not! She is pale and colicky and has a sour smell to her sweat and stools. Remedy: Rheum
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