Friday, February 8, 2008

How to Soothe a Crying Baby?

I remember the inconsolable shriek of a newborn in the hospital room next door to ours. I’m so glad that’s not our baby, I thought selfishly. Ours made small mouse-like noises, “ut ut ut ut,” when she wanted to nurse, and calmed instantly when I responded. But the baby next door screamed as if being tortured.

When my second child was born those other parents had their revenge. Baby Athena cried terribly and often, piercing eardrums and sanity with urgent screams.

Whether your child murmurs or wails, the cry of a baby is often heart wrenching. Some moms even feel panicky when their newborns cry. “I was intimidated out of my mind,” our friend Katelyn confided, looking back on her first days with Aidan. Recovering from an emergency C-section, Katelyn’s solution was to pass her son to her husband, who was much less affected by Aidan’s cries. “I felt like I was thrust into a new world that no one had prepared me for,” she said. “There was so much to do to keep this tiny person alive.”

Babies cry to communicate—that they are hungry, wet, tired, uncomfortable, or needing to be held—but it's often not easy to understand what they're saying.

One of the scariest moments in a new parent’s life is when your baby cries and you don’t know what to do.

But you may understand more than you think. “Parents know their children whether they know it or not,” says Jessie Payne of Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts. “You sense what they want or need in a visceral way that may not always be conscious.”

Jessie and her hubby had a foolproof method to soothe her son who was colicky for his first five weeks and would have long crying jags in the evening. Even though Kai was born in the winter, Jessie or her husband would brave the cold and leave the house. “Literally every time we would take him outside he would calm down,” she remembers. “Getting outside always shifted the mood.”

For our friend Eve, who lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, changing her daughter’s diaper was the only way to calm her. Ruthie, the fussiest of the Page-Weinbaum’s three children, got her diaper changed a lot. “Wiping her bottom was the only thing that would help. We would change her all day long.”

When your baby cries it may be that picking her up from the crib or bouncy chair is all that she needs (after all, we all like company). Make sure he’s not hungry (newborns go through sometimes unpredictable growth spurts and can become ravenous even though it’s not “on schedule”). Check that your baby’s diaper is dry and that he is not too hot or too cold. If your baby is shrieking (and isn’t usually a screamer), a tag from his clothing or an errant pin in that fancy little dress may be the culprit.

Ways for dads and moms to keep cool with a fussy baby:

1. Wear earplugs to take the edge off

2. Go on a hike to calm your nerves and the baby's

3. Put on some music and hip hop with da bébé

4. Take a bath or a shower together (warm water works wonders but beware: newborns especially are slippery)

5. Ask for help: pass the whining wee one off to a calmer adult

6. Take up recreational drug use

1 comment:

Elrena said...

Okay, the recreational drug use bit made me laugh out loud. :)

Now I really can't wait to see the book!