Your baby fully depends on you for food, warmth and comfort that she needs. Crying is a way of communicating and asking you to take care of her needs. When the baby is very young, it is at times hard to know which need she needs taken care of. But as she grows, she will learn other ways of passing their message. She will get better at eye contact, smiling and making noises.
Let us look at some reasons why your baby cries, and some ways to sooth her.
She is hungry
The main reason why your baby will cry is hunger. This is mostly common in newborns. The younger the baby, the more the likelihood that she is hungry. Your baby has a small stomach that cannot hold much. This means that she will take a short time before asking for another feed. If you are breastfeeding, respond by offering her your breast, even if her last feeding was not so long ago. When she has had enough, she will let you know by coming off your breast in her own time. She will seem content and settled.
If you are formula-feeding, your baby may need feeding at intervals of two hours. This is different from every baby. If your baby does not finish her feeds and this is consistent, she might prefer little feedings, but more often. The baby may not stop crying immediately, just let her feed if she wants to.
She wants to be held
Your baby needs physical contact, lots of cuddling and reassurance to comfort her. So she may cry because she just wants to be held. Singing to her and swaying while holding her will help to distract and comfort her. Try baby wearing with a carrier to keep the baby close to you for longer periods. All she loves is you smell, the sound of your heartbeat and the warmth of your body.
She has colic
This is a condition that can be associated with stomach problems. It can be an allergy or intolerance to something in a type of a formula milk or your breast milk. This can also be linked to constipation, wind or reflux, when your baby brings up feeds. Colic tends to peak at two months, and is gone by around three to four months. Some signs of colic in your baby may include clenching her fists, arching her back or drawing up her knees.
She needs her diaper changed
While some babies don’t seem to mind unless their skin feels irritated, your baby may cry when her diaper is wet or soiled. Your baby may seem to dislike to have her diaper changed and this could be because of the strange feeling of cold air on her skin. You try distracting your baby with a song or a toy she can look at during changes. With time you will have learnt to change her quick enough and become a pro at it.
She doesn’t feel well
If your baby is unwell, she will cry in a different tone from what you are used to. It can be more tight, weaker, more urgent, high-pitched or continuous. If she cries a lot and has become unusually quiet, this may also mean that she is unwell.
Teething can also cause your baby to be more upset than usual. Before a new tooth comes through, a babies often become irritable and restless.
She is tired and needs rest
If you baby is very tired she may have difficulties to get to sleep. The younger the baby, the more subtle her sleep cues. This may take you some weeks to recognize the signs. Some signs that your baby needs to sleep may be fussing and crying at the slightest thing, being quiet and still and staring blankly to the sky. Too much rocking and singing, and much attention from doting visitors can stimulate your baby and make it hard for to sleep. You can take her to a quiet room before bed and after a feed to help her calm down and switch off.
She is too cold or too hot
You can tell if your baby is too cold or too hot by feeling her tummy or the back of her neck. Don’t be guided by the temperature of her hands or feet. It is normal for them to feel hotter or colder than the rest of her body. Maintain the temperature of your baby’s room between 16-20 degrees C. Use a room thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
Place her to sleep on her back with her feet at the foot of her cot. This will ensure that she doesn’t wriggle down the blankets and become too hot. Do not overdress her so that she cannot become overheated. It is a general rule that your baby only needs one extra layer of clothing than you to be comfortable.
If her tummy feels cold, add a blanket, and if too cold, remove one. For your baby’s cot, use cotton sheets and cellular blankets. If you are using a sleeping bag, make sure it is the right tog for the season and the right size for your baby.
She needs to burp.
If your baby is crying even after just feeding, it is a clear sign that she needs burping. Apart from feeding, other times your baby may need burping are when having hiccups or crying and after sucking a pacifier. There are many ways to burp a baby. Find out which works best for you.
If you notice any unusual behavior with your baby, visit your pediatrician. It is not advisable to just do try calming a baby that seems unwell. Your efforts to sooth your baby will be futile if the cause for crying is illness.