Is your baby crying a lot? Do you wonder what the secret is for having a chilled out, happy baby?
People often comment to me how relaxed and happy my son is. He has a bad day now and again, but generally he is a very easy, relaxed baby. That’s not to say he just sits around, he’s quite active. However, he rarely cries, is often capable of entertaining himself, and happy.
These are my tips on surviving the newborn period with minimal crying.
How to have a calm baby
Be predictable in meeting your baby’s needs. Don’t wait for them to start wailing before you feed them, learn the early cues. Even a newborn will give you a lot of hints before he starts screaming to be fed. These cues include making sucking motions with their mouth and biting or sucking their hands. If your baby is screaming, you’ve left it late. Similarly, babies don’t always cry immediately when they need changing. Keep on top of their needs, and they will cry less.
Give your infant lots of eye contact and hold them. If you’re keeping them in a cot or swing a lot of the time, and not handling them much, you will have a fussy baby. Infants need to be held, cuddled and be close to their mum. They need to know their mother loves and accepts them, which they will understand when you look in their eyes, rather than away from them. When your baby gets enough attention, they will be content and let you get your things done, too.
Have routines. This is another point on being predictable. Children, and humans generally, thrive on routine. Particularly for bedtime, the routines you make now will become powerful sleep cues. This will help your baby to fall asleep more easily, and have some rituals that they find comforting and relaxing.
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Keep arguments away from the baby. Babies have no sense of being separate from their environment. Hearing or seeing their parents fight will make them frightened and insecure, causing more crying and fussiness. These kinds of experiences may also cause a fear response in other situations. For example, they may become sensitive to loud noises and cry more.
Don’t take out your frustrations on the baby. Yes, they can be frustrating. You may think your baby doesn’t care about you when he is screaming and disrupting your sleep, or screams when you put him down because you need to pee. Understand that this is your own mind projecting negative things onto the baby. They are not capable of conscious decision making. When they cry they are expressing a need and nothing more. Try not to yell at the baby if you’re feeling frustrated. It is better to take a few minutes to compose yourself and let them cry, than to yell at them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out for help from friends, family or services.
Take your baby outside. You’d be surprised how much a change in environment or some time in nature can calm a fussy baby. My husband used to take our son for a short walk on those bad days when he was inconsolable, it was often effective.
Exclusively breastfeed if you can. It’s no secret that formula causes a lot of constipation, gas and belly pain. Babies can still suffer gas pains when breastfed but breast-milk is what nature intended babies to eat, so it’s much easier on their stomach and digestion. Breastfeeding is also very calming and will soothe a crying baby quickly. If breastfeeding is not possible, try to find a formula that doesn’t make your baby constipated.
The Most Important Tip…
For Infants, tend to crying immediately when possible. There is an old-school ideology that if you respond to a baby’s cry right away they will use it to manipulate you. This might be true for toddlers and older children but young babies only cry when they NEED something. Your newborn is not capable of manipulating you. If you leave a baby to cry long enough, and they frequently do not get a response, they will shut down thinking they are alone.
This teaches them to stop communicating their needs because there is no one around who cares to tend to them. This creates feelings of insecurity. While it may shut down the expression of their sadness and frustration, the emotions will still be there. This will cause emotional problems for the child. If they know you will attend their needs, they won’t feel like they need to scream and fuss to get your attention.
It is unreasonable to expect a baby to be able to self-soothe fresh out of the womb when they can’t even lift their own head or move independently. Ignoring them will affect their developing personality and cause ongoing problems.
The only exception to tending crying immediately, should be when you need to tend your own needs. You’re allowed to let your baby cry for a minute to get some water, go to the bathroom, or whatever you need to do to maintain yourself. You don’t need to be perfect, but try to give an immediate response to infants the majority of the time.
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Let me know what you think or if these tips worked for you. Would love to hear your feedback.