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Cry Baby

Your job as a caregiver is to figure out why the baby is crying. Then you can decide what, if anything, you can do to calm the baby. And don't worry about spoiling your baby with too much attention. You can't.

Cry Baby

So react quickly when your baby is crying. There are times when you can help, and there will be times when the only thing you can do is be there for your baby. While it's hard to hear your baby's cries, don't take them as a failure of caregiving.

In time you might be able to figure out your baby's needs by the sound of the cry. For example, newborns often let out a hungry cry right after they wake up. It could quickly turn into an angry wail if they have to wait long to be fed. Also, a cry of pain might sound panicked or shrieking. Noticing patterns like these can help you respond to the cries with whatever your baby needs.

It's OK to let your baby cry if the baby doesn't seem sick and you've tried everything to soothe your baby. You can try to leave your baby alone in a safe place, such as a crib, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Many babies need to cry before they can fall asleep. And they'll nod off faster if you leave them to cry.

Try to make a little time each day to do things that relax you. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be to calm your baby. Infants can sense tension in adults, and they may react by crying. If you get angry or panicked, it might make your baby cry harder.

If your baby's crying causes you to feel like you are losing control, put the baby in the crib and go to another room. Take a 10- to 15-minute break to try to calm yourself down. Some things you can do to ease stress are:

Hold your baby in your arms and place her body on their left side to help digestion or stomach for support. Gently rub their back. If your baby goes to sleep, remember to always lay her down in her crib on her back.

If it is not yet time to feed your baby, offer the pacifier or help your baby find their thumb or finger. Many babies are calmed by sucking.

For breastfed babies: Moms may try changing their own diet. See if your baby gets less fussy if you cut down on milk products or caffeine. If there is no difference after making the dietary changes, resume your usual diet. Avoiding spicy or gassy foods like onions or cabbage has worked for some moms, but this has not been scientifically proven.

Keep a diary of when your baby is awake, asleep, eating, and crying. Write down how long it takes your baby to eat or if your baby cries the most after eating. Talk with your child's doctor about these behaviors to see if their crying is related to sleeping or eating.

Limit each daytime nap to no longer than 3 hours a day. Keep your baby calm and quiet when you feed or change themr during the night by avoiding bright lights and noises, such as the TV.

Spitting up or vomiting a lot. Some babies have symptoms from gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and the fussiness can be confused with colic. Contact your child's doctor if your baby is fussy after feeding, has excessive spitting or vomiting, and is losing or not gaining weight.

Sick (has a fever or other illness). Check your baby's temperature. If your baby is younger than 2 months and has a fever, call your child's doctor right away. See Fever and Your Baby for more information.

If you have tried to calm your crying baby but nothing seems to work, you may need to take a moment for yourself. Crying can be tough to handle, especially if you're physically tired and mentally exhausted.

Even though your baby can't talk, she is capable of giving you some clues to help you understand what she's communicating. Since she can't exactly tell you what she needs with words, she relies on an array of whimpers, cries and all-out screams to get your attention.

Babies tend to have different cries to express different needs or emotions. While you might be a natural at cracking the code on some types of crying, most new parents benefit from a little guidance. Here are some "crib" notes to help clue you in to what your baby may be saying (or screaming):

Most of these crying sessions happen in the evening. It may be that this is the most hectic and stressful time of day in the home: Everyone's tired, everyone's hungry (and Mom's milk supply may be at its lowest level of the day), everyone's done, done, done, and that goes for baby, too.

Or it may be that after a busy day of taking in and processing all the sights, sounds and other stimuli in her environment, baby just needs to unwind with a good cry. Crying for a few minutes may even help her nod off to sleep.

However, if you think you're hearing a cry of discomfort or pain, check to see if there is something making your child uncomfortable, such as clothing or hair wrapped around her finger. If your baby's crying seems unusually prolonged or intense and she is inconsolable, call your pediatrician.

It may feel like a lot to figure out, but as your baby becomes a more effective communicator and as you become more proficient at understanding her, she will cry less often, for shorter periods, and will be more easily comforted when she does cry. You'll also learn to identify what her cries mean more quickly. So hang in there!

Meanwhile, having a repetitive routine can help. If your baby's day falls into a pattern of feeding, a period of alert play, and then a period of sleep, knowing where you are in the cycle can help you determine quickly what your little one needs. If she has a full belly and an empty diaper, she may be ready for a nap, or she may just need a cuddle.

Shaken baby syndrome, or abusive head trauma, is when a child's brain is injured from physical abuse. Most cases happen when a parent or caregiver shakes a baby while angry or frustrated, often because the baby won't stop crying. These injuries can cause permanent brain damage or death. No one should ever shake a baby for any reason.

Some babies need less stimulation. Babies 2 months and younger may do well swaddled, lying on their back in the crib with the lights very dim or dark. Make sure the swaddle isn't too tight. Stop swaddling when the baby is starting to be able to roll over.

Keep in mind that all babies cry a lot and it will get better. The crying isn't caused by something you did or didn't do. Take care of yourself and ask for help so you can keep taking good care of your baby.

The rare but important causes to think about in your history and examination are serious bacterial infection (including urinary tract infection), acute surgical causes (incarcerated hernia the most likely in a baby, rarely torted testicle, intussusception or volvulus), supra-ventricular tachycardia and hair tourniquet. Many sources also mention corneal abrasion, but studies of normal babies show that corneal abrasions are common and not associated with the level of crying, so it is difficult to know how important abrasions are.

Box 2 outlines what to ask in your history. Red flags are presence of fever, and bilious or projectile vomiting. A sudden change in behaviour from settled baby to inconsolable crying may be a red flag.

The Period of PURPLE Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby's life, which is a normal part of every infant's development. It is confusing and concerning to be told your baby "has colic" because it sounds like it is an illness or a condition that is abnormal. When the baby is given medication to treat symptoms of colic, it reinforces the idea that there is something wrong with the baby, when in fact, the baby is going through a very normal developmental phase. That is why we prefer to refer to this time as the Period of PURPLE Crying. This is not because the baby turns purple while crying. The acronym is a meaningful and memorable way to describe what parents and their babies are going through.

During this phase of a baby's life they can cry for hours and still be healthy and normal. Parents often think there must be something wrong or they would not be crying like this. However, even after a check-up from the doctor which shows the baby is healthy they still go home and cry for hours, night after night. "It was so discouraging," said one dad. "Our baby giggles and seems fine during the day and almost like clockwork, he starts crying around 6 pm. He is growing and healthy, so why does he cry like this?"

Often parents say their baby looks like he or she is in pain. They think they must be, or why would they cry so much. Babies who are going through this period can act like they are in pain even when they are not.

After learning all of this, we decided we needed to share this information with other parents. We had to take this information and put it into a statement that told the story about this phase in a baby's life. Dr. Ronald Barr, a developmental pediatrician who has likely done more studies on infant crying than anyone in the world, came up with the phrase the Period of PURPLE Crying. His idea was to explain this phase to parents of new babies so they would know it was normal and they would be encouraged that it would come to an end.

Babies can easily get overstimulated by bright lights or noise. Cuddling, swaddling, and walking with your baby and providing motion and body contact may help calm your baby. The soothing sounds of a white noise machine or fan in the room may also promote relaxation.

6-month sleep regressionBetween four and six months, some babies go through a sleep regression that may cause your baby to cry and wake more at night. There are several theories as to why this may happen, including separation anxiety and increased sensitivity to overstimulation.1

12-month sleep regressionYour baby may undergo a similar sleep regression around their first birthday. By now, your baby may be walking, talking, teething, weaning themselves off naptime, and maybe even having nightmares. All these new activities can keep your baby active and irritable in the middle of the night. 041b061a72


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