Nailah is now eight weeks old and within these eight weeks we have gone through days of almost no crying at all to days with a lot of crying. We are learning to differentiate between the different cries, trying to understand what Nailah needs when she cries. Hearing Nailah cry can be challenging and sometimes I wish she could speak in a language we understand and tell us what is wrong so that we can give her what she needs. This is obviously not an option and that is why we as parents need to learn to deal with our baby crying. In the past weeks I have been working on learning ways to keep calm also in moments where Nailah cries for longer periods of time or in public spaces.
First of all it is helpful to check whether the baby
- is hungry
- needs a diaper change
- has to burp
- is too hot or too cold
- needs sleep (cant fall asleep by himself)
- has a tummy ache
- has any other physical pain (it is a good idea to visit an osteopath after giving birth as he can help the baby with physical pains, which might have been caused by the birth process.
If any of these options are true the baby can be calmed with fulfilling these needs.
If none of these options are relevant your baby might just be in need of closeness, warmth and love or might be processing either the birth or whatever it has experienced so far. Some babies are traumatized by the birth process and crying can be a way of processing the trauma. The baby then needs a person who ‘listens’ to the cries. In any of those situations nothing other than carrying the baby and singing or speaking to the baby helps.
Know & Keep in Mind Why a Baby Cries
Knowing that crying is a baby’s way of communicating is very helpful. The baby does not cry to annoy or trick someone.
Unfortunately we can not exactly understand what the baby is saying, but we can understand that this is a baby’s way of telling us that he needs us.
Human babies are helpless and cannot take care of themselves without the parents and this is exactly how they feel. If we do not attend to the baby when he cries the baby learns that the world is a dangerous and lonely place and he will feel fearful and anxious. If we repeatedly do not answer the baby’s cries the baby learns to ignore his needs and stops crying or becomes over alert and cries more and more. This has an influence on the person not only as a baby but also later in life. As a child, youth and adult that person might develop difficulties in expressing emotions, be less confident, or won’t trust himself and the world. These are just some of the effects not answering a baby’s cry can have on the baby also later in life.
Answering your baby’s cries does not teach him to cry more so that he will get more attention, but it teaches him that he is loved and that the world is a safe place. A baby does not have an understanding of himself like an adult does, but develops it. By attending the baby’s needs we help the baby to love himself and develop a confident self. Our job as a parent is so meaningful and powerful. I find that being aware of this already helps in keeping calm when a baby cries. It gives great meaning to the importance of taking care of your baby with love, care, and calmness when he cries.
Positive Self-Talk & Mindset
The power of the mind…use it also when your baby cries. Crying is often perceived as something negative so your mind will react to it accordingly. I therefore chose ‘Know & Keep in Mind Why a Baby Cries’ as a first in this article. Understanding why a baby cries can already help us in not getting annoyed, but answering with care and love. Setting your mind positively will help staying calm when your baby cries. It will also help you to act in the right way, listening to your intuition and not reacting with nervousness and annoyance. Your mindset influences how you perceive the situation and react to it.
We as parents can make great use of the power of the mind when our baby cries. Detect negative self talk, stop yourself from engaging in it and replace it with positive self talk.
- Keep telling yourself that you are a good and calm parent
- Remind yourself that your baby will stop crying
- Remind yourself that babies go through phases and that even if the crying lasts for hours it will end
- Remind yourself that your baby is a baby and not an adult. It does not have the intention to trick you, but is in need of your love, warmth, and attention
- Use affirmations and repeatedly say them to yourself, such as ‘I am relaxed and calm’
When you notice that you feel extremely stressed take a few deep breaths. Breath in and out deeply and slowly. This will release tension and calm your nervous system.
Take Care of Yourself
The lower your stress levels the more resilient and calm you will be in general. Taking care of yourself is so important also when you have a baby. It will help yourself and in turn your baby.
Sleep deprivation can be a serious issue with a baby. If you do not sleep well or a lot at night make sure to nap throughout the day. Take a nap when your baby sleeps. Leave aside the other things you need to do and make sleeping your priority. If you do not get enough sleep it is very difficult to keep calm in more stressful situations.
Besides napping meditating or doing breathing exercises are great ways to relax and take care of yourself. Some studies found that meditating can give you more energy than taking a nap. Try to practice regularly to train your mind and body to calm down easily.
Other ways of keeping your stress levels low and taking care of yourself could be to take a relaxing bath (while someone else takes care of your baby), to listen to your favorite music, to go for a walk, practice sports, or share your thoughts and feelings with family of friends.
Get Help From Others
Make sure you aren’t always alone with your baby, but spend time with friends or family. Allow them to take care of your baby and soothe your baby when he is crying. If you notice that you cannot keep calm anymore go outside for 20 minutes or so and leave your baby with your partner, friend or family. That way you can get a break from hearing the baby crying and recharge your batteries.
Let Go of Not Wanting To Annoy Others
Letting go of worrying about annoying others with the baby’s cry in public places is so helpful in keeping calm. When Nailah cried in a public space for the first time I noticed how I was stressed because I did not want others to be annoyed. Luckily I quickly recognized that and immediately learned to let go of that. My priority is to help Nailah by soothing her and not to ‘shut her off’ so that others won’t be annoyed. This does not mean that I am not respectful to others. If I notice that Nailah does not stop crying and I can easily leave the room I do so, but I am not stressed by the worry of annoying others.
Let Go of Wanting to Have the ‘Perfect’ Calm and Sweet Baby
Let go of how your baby should be and should behave. Practicing this from the beginning on is a good idea, because it is never good to want to decide how your child should be, look like, behave or perform. Allow your baby to be however and whoever it is. It does not need to be the sweet quiet baby in front of others. Free yourself from wanting to present your baby in a certain way. This will allow your baby to develop in his own way and it allows you to stay calm and at peace.
Keeping calm when our babies cry is helpful both for us parents as well as the baby. Babies are extremely sensitive and respond to how we feel. Crying is a regular part of a baby’s life and parenthood becomes so much more pleasant if we learn to keep calm when our baby cries. It definitely is a learning process and there will probably be moments of despair, feeling overwhelmed and drained even for the most relaxed parent. That is ok as well.
If you have any other ways of keeping calm when your baby cries I’d love to hear them! You can send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org I find that sharing and learning from one another is so helpful as a parent.