Soothing a crying newborn
Soothing a crying newborn


If you think your baby’s incessant crying is frustrating, imagine not being able to communicate what’s wrong. Since babies usually won’t develop colic just yet (a dreaded condition where the baby cries inconsolably for no apparent reason), it’s just a matter of finding what’s wrong:

Hunger -  This is one of the most common and easiest cries to distinguish, especially considering babies usually give other signals as well, such as sucking on their hand, smacking their lips, and turning their mouth toward you as you stroke their cheek.  The sooner you recognise your baby’s particular signs, the less wailing you’ll have to endure.

Pain -  This is usually a loud, panicked shriek or an uncomfortable whine, depending on what’s wrong.  First search for something simple like a strand of your hair wrapped around her finger or toe, and then check to make sure baby isn’t too cold or sweating. If not, try to relieve any gas that might be upsetting your baby’s tummy.  If burping doesn’t work, lay baby flat and move her legs in a bicycle motion.  You might also want to check with your doctor about anti-gas drops if the problem becomes consistent.

Dirty nappy - Some babies can be particular, so check that their nappy doesn't need changing.

In need of some loving - If all else fails, your baby might be craving a little attention and comfort.  Here are some tried and true soothing methods:

  • Shushing and/or whispering
  • Singing
  • Swinging or bouncing
  • Sucking, such as with a dummy, or on your little finger
  • Patting their backs
  • Carrying them in a sling
  • Using white noise

Of course every baby is different, so this first week is largely a trial-and-error period to see what works and what doesn’t for your baby, and for you.



For more tips on communicating with your baby


Settle your baby
Baby's body language
What's your baby trying to tell you?

This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource.


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