There is nothing like a crying baby to really upset a new mother – especially if she has done everything she can think of and NOTHING seems to work…
The first few weeks of being a new mother are the most trying, exhausting and confusing days you will ever have. It takes time to get to know your baby and the new routine your life has fallen into. But perhaps the biggest challenge is understanding what your baby wants when it is crying. First eliminate the most obvious causes:
Is your baby hungry?
This really is the main reason why babies cry. Remember, their tummies are very small and they can get hungry very quickly again. You may think it has been hours since her last feed, but it is always worth trying feeding your baby again.
If she is not hungry, she will not take the breast, but if she is, let her drink until she has had enough. Babies will stop drinking if their tummies are full. Some mothers try to get their babies on set routines or follow specific books on how often to feed their baby. Don’t try this too early as a newborn still needs to be fed often and frequently.
If you are feeding your baby formula, then she will probably be full for about two hours but only if she had all of her bottle. Perhaps offer her a little bit to see if she wants it, maybe your baby likes to snack more often on smaller amounts.
Does she want to be held?
Some babies like to be held more than others. It is possible that your little one needs more soothing and reassurance, or quite simply, that she prefers to be with you as much as possible.
This can seem daunting, especially if you want to get going with housework or cooking. Invest in a baby sling or a kind of carrier that allows baby to snuggle up close to you while freeing up your hands.
Don’t worry about “spoiling your baby” with too much attention. When it comes to a newborn or a very young baby, you cannot spoil her by giving her your love. Bonding with your baby and responding to her crying is vital for your bond and your relationship in future.
Is your baby uncomfortable?
Your baby has no way of telling you that she is too hot or too cold but it may be that she is uncomfortable. Check her clothing, is it perhaps too tight or are the buttons are pressing against her. Is she too hot or perhaps you have underdressed her?
Another possibility is that she needs a new nappy. A nappy with a poo needs to be changed as soon as possible as that can cause the skin to burn and lead to nasty nappy rashes and burns. Invest in a good hypo-allergenic bum crème or powder to ensure the skin is healthy and soft.
Could something be wrong?
Take your baby’s temperature and anything from 38°C and up means that your baby has a fever and probably should see a doctor. She may be teething, which can be very painful, in which case teething gels are useful as is a chewy toy that she can rub her gums against.
Another possibility is that your baby has colic. While nobody is entirely sure what causes colic, it is however the case that some babies seem to cry more than others, appearing to be uncomfortable and unable to settle down. While it can be connected to the milk or lactose intolerance, others suggest reflux (when baby coughs up the milk) or wind and stomach problems are to blame.
If you think your baby might have colic, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you may take comfort in the fact that it will pass. By the time your baby is four months old, the colic is usually gone. You need to find ways to calm your baby down, soothe her (and yourself) to cope with times of prolonged crying.
If you have a baby that cries a lot, you need support too. Coping with a crying bay can make you feel like crying all the time as well – so get as much rest as you can and use the help of partners, family members and grandparents!