There are joys of motherhood but having a crying baby isn’t one of such joys.
Truth is, motherhood isn’t always fun. Forget about all the cute baby pictures in your gallery and all the sweet compliments you receive when you share your baby’s pictures on social media. Forget the, “The joys of motherhood” “I can’t wait to be a mum” “Babies are so cute” “Motherhood is beautiful” comments you receive on social media.
Being a mum isn’t always fun! Yeah, it’s fun when you’re greeted early in the morning with your baby’s beautiful smile. It’s fun when you capture your baby’s beautiful moments with your camera. It’s fun when you hear your baby’s laughter and giggles while you play with her. It’s fun when your baby wraps her cute little fingers around yours during breastfeeding.
But there’s more to motherhood than these beautiful moments. So much more goes on behind closed doors that are not visible to the public. There are times of frustration and one of such is when your baby’s cry pierce through your inner ear and you’ve done all to meet her perceived needs to no avail.
Why do babies cry?
Babies communicate their needs and desires through crying. So babies cry when they are –
- tired. Yes, babies can feel tired too.
- sleepy. Honestly, this is usually annoying.
- wet and need a diaper change.
- staring at a new face
- in pain.
- gas. This is why it’s important to burp your baby after feeding to prevent gas from being trapped in their bowels thereby making them uncomfortable.
- need comfort and safety.
- too warm or too cold. Feel your baby’s fingers and feet to detect if they’re cold or warm. Keep them warm if they’re cold or remove some clothes if they’re warm.
- bored and wants to play.
- startled or shocked maybe because of noise.
However, sometimes you think you understand your baby’s needs every time because the signs are usually there. You know when she’s hungry, tired, bored, sleepy, or wants to be cleaned up. But sometimes, you do all these and your baby still goes bwaaaaaaahhhhhh….
This could really be tiring and frustrating. What do you do at a time like this- when your baby cries after doing all you could?
What to do when you have a crying baby
1. Remember that it’s a phase and it shall pass. If you have ruled out colic, rest assured that it won’t be like that for the whole day. Sometimes, it could be that your baby wants to sleep or longs for some comfort. Knowing that it’s a temporary phase can help you to stay calm through it all. Your baby won’t cry forever.
2. Don’t feel like a failure. It’s okay not to always know what your baby wants. You’re a mother not a magician. Don’t feel bad if all you do to meet your baby’s needs do not make your baby calm. You’re the best parent for your baby and you’re doing a great job already. So don’t be hard on yourself.
3. Give your baby to someone available in the house, your spouse, a sibling or a trusted friend. That could give you a break and help you to deal with frustration. I know it’s heartbreaking to watch your baby cry without knowing what she wants. But take a break. It could even be ten minutes. Take a walk, grab a drink, listen to your favourite music, call a friend, watch a comedy skit, and yes, you can pray!
A sentence prayer can go a long way to help you.
“Lord, help me.”
That’s prayer. You don’t need to spend ten minutes praying before God hears. He’s our present help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 is one of my favorite verses of the Bible.
God is a Father who understands every of our emotions and He’s interested in every detail of our lives. He’s there to help you with parenting.
Taking a break will not only make you feel refreshed, it also alleviates your mood and gives you the strength to deal with the situation.
4. Rock your baby gently. Babies enjoy rocking and this can help in soothing your crying baby because movement helps in calming their nerves. Be calm while at it. Your baby wants to feel that you’re in charge of the situation.
Some people are of the opinion that you should let your child cry herself to sleep, using Dr Richard Feber’s Cry It Out method as a reference.
Well, it hasn’t worked for me. Who likes to be ignored when they’re crying or needs comfort?
I understand that you shouldn’t always rush to carry your baby at every move she makes but you shouldn’t leave your baby to soothe herself when she’s not in a good mood either.
Here’s a video on how to rock your baby to sleep by Howcast.
[Video] How to rock your baby to sleep
5. Establish skin to skin contact with your crying baby. Sometimes, all your crying baby wants is some comfort, assurance, and safety. You can achieve this by placing your baby on your chest or your back.
The African style of carrying baby on the back with a wrapper and a smaller wrapper will never go extinct.
As a Nigerian living in Denmark, I didn’t start to do this until one day when I had troubles getting my crying baby to sleep while I tried to do some other things. Then it occurred to me, “Why don’t you just ‘back’ this child?”
I didn’t have the traditional wrapper called ‘ofi’ so I used a rectangular cloth we spread on the ironing table and my scarf. Then I was able to do some other things while my baby enjoyed some contact and some ‘me’ time at the same time.
I thought to myself, “Why am I just doing this? This would have saved me some stress!” Seriously, how could I forget our African baby carrier? Hahaha.
I took a picture of us and shared it on Facebook. A Facebook friend, Halle Aby, saw it and sent me a beautiful ‘ofi’ to carry my baby on my back. God bless her.
My baby is always happy when I put her on my back. She even tries to jump! Aha!
[Video]Watch the African style of carrying baby on the back
Here’s a video of how to put a baby on the back in the African way by Vedorian Obiora, a YouTuber:
6. Seek help. No one is an island. Yes, you’re your child’s best parent but that doesn’t mean you know it all. Don’t be ashamed to seek help from those you think could be of help- your mum, friends who are parents, even your baby’s nurse. You can get helpful tips from any of them.
7. Reach out for some comfort. Apart from reaching out to people for helpful tips, you can also reach out to loved ones for comfort and reassurance. You could use some encouraging words. Feel free to receive love and support from your spouse (if he’s available), your friends or your family.
8. Take your baby out for a walk. Taking your crying baby out can calm her. Seeing other faces, trees, and other features of nature could fascinate her and also distract her. I think babies love being outdoor. Each time I take my baby out, she sleeps before we get back in. Exposure to cool air does some wonders.
9. Massage your baby. I’ve not seen anyone who doesn’t enjoy a massage. This is the same for babies. Massage your crying baby gently while singing or playing a cool music. This could help soothe your crying baby.
10. Give your baby something to suck on. Even though your crying baby is not hungry, she could derive comfort by sucking on an object such as a pacifier or your finger (it should be clean). Babies derive pleasure from sucking. Pacifier works for my crying baby most times and helps her to self-soothe.
11. Know that your crying baby appreciates you for your effort. She’s grateful for all that you do even if she can’t say it. But she sees all you’re doing to make her alright and she’s happy that you care.
Motherhood may be tasking but it’s rewarding and fulfilling.