Parents of young infants are no strangers to fussiness and crying. Listening to your little one cry can lead to a myriad of emotions, including concern, frustration, or even confusion at times. There are many reasons a baby may cry including hunger, overstimulation, discomfort, or sometimes even from boredom. Some babies even have routine periods during the day where they are fussy without a clear cause for a couple of hours. When your baby is crying, the first step is to identify the baby’s most pressing need: when was the last time they fed? Are they hot or cold? Is their diaper wet or dirty? If the crying seems very panicked, is there anything that may be causing harm to your baby or making them uncomfortable (such as a piece of hair wrapped around a finger or toe)? As your child ages, you may also notice their cries may differ in sound or urgency based on their needs, such as cries of hunger sounding angry. Once you have ruled out or attended to your infant’s needs, they may continue to fuss or cry, and this can be normal.
There are many ways to try to console a crying infant. Soothing techniques may include rocking or gentle movement, swaddling, talking or singing, playing soft music or white noise, or a warm calming bath (if your child enjoys this). As each infant is unique and individual, calming methods that work for one child may not be as effective for another. There will likely be some trial and error while finding which soothing activity your infant enjoys. If you are feeling frustrated, overstimulated, panicky, or angry, it may be time to take a break from soothing. To do this, set your baby down in a safe space (such as their crib or basinet) and step into another room to take a break or allow another family member to help. If you have confirmed all of your child’s basic needs have been met, you can give them time to see if they will cry themselves to sleep, while also taking the opportunity to recenter and calm yourself. It is never safe to shake or hit your baby, so if you are feeling angry or irritable, set the child in a safe space and ask for help from family or friends.
Even during stressful fussy periods, keep in mind your child is not crying because they do not like you or because you are a bad parent. Crying is a natural and normal activity for infants, and no adult will be able to console them perfectly every time. Take breaks as you need to, enlist help from loved ones, and enjoy the joyful moments you have with your newest family member!
Healthy Children. (April 21, 2021). Responding to your baby’s cries. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Responding-to-Your-Babys-Cries.aspx