Crying baby: Decoding baby cries and how to soothe them

There is an old myth stipulating that mothers can tell what their babies want by listening to the sound of their cries. But according to studies, even pediatric nurses are unable to know the cause of a cry based on how it sounds. Harvey Karp, MD, author of the Happiest Baby on the Block and pediatrician in Los Angeles says that a crying baby is like a smoke alarm. You cannot tell if the whole house is burning down or if you simply burnt a toast, he says.

Experts believe that crying is a state of being for infants just like sleeping. According to Marc Weissbluth, MD, author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and a pediatrician in Chicago, crying is normal behavior in children. Whatever you do, there is no getting around it: Babies cry just like birds fly.

If you are a new parent looking for answers to your child’s tears, you might need to turn to contextual cues to find out why your infant is crying. While the reasons for tears is oblivious in some instances, in some instances, you just want to throw in the towel and sob when he starts crying.

If your child ate two hours ago, he is probably hungry. If he has been awake for the last 2 hours, he is probably tired. However, health experts say that a small percentage of crying is inconsolable. In such circumstances, you can try everything that comes to mind to soothe your baby but you may not stop the baby’s tears. A crying baby does not necessarily mean that something is wrong or you are a terrible parent. Some crying is unsoothable, so even when you get plenty of advice on how to pacify the baby, keep in mind that each kid is unique.

Here are top reasons why babies cry:

Hunger

Hunger is the first thing parents think about when an infant cries. Learning to identify the signs of hunger will help you to start feeding your baby before the crying phase begins. Hunger signs to watch out for include lip smacking, fussing, putting their hands in the mouth and rooting- this is an infant’s reflex where babies turn their heads towards your hand when you stroke their cheek.

Wants to be cuddled

Babies need a lot of cuddling. They love attention and like to see their parents’ faces, listen to their heartbeats and hear their voices. Crying is usually their way of asking for your attention.

While some parents worry that they will spoil their babies by holding them too much, this is not possible during the first few months. To make it easier to cuddle your baby, consider wearing your baby in a sling or front carrier.

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Colic

Everyone acknowledges that colic exists, however, nobody seems to know what causes the condition. Some health experts say that colic is a kind of stomach cramp with a combination of baffling behaviors. Theories on possible causes of colic include overstimulated senses, food allergies, immature digestive system and acid reflux.

Physicians normally diagnose the condition based on what is referred to as Rules of Three:

Baby crying lasts about 3 hours at a time

Crying occurs about 3 days a week

Baby cries for at least 3 weeks in a row

In spite of the Rules of Three principles, some infants are colic overachievers. They wail for more hours, days and weeks at a time. So, apart from the Rules of Three, how do you know if your crying baby is experiencing colic? Here are more signs and symptoms to help you figure out if you are dealing with colic:

Baby pulls up her legs, move his legs and arms. In addition, the baby may clench her fists.

Bowel activity tends to increase. She may spit up or pass gas.

Crying occurs at the same time daily, this occurs mostly in late afternoon or early evening though it can vary.

Crying occurs without any reason-not because baby is hungry, has a dirty diaper or tired.

Baby closes eyes or open them widely, holds breath briefly and furrow her brow.

Soothing a colicky baby

Feeding and sleeping are interrupted by crying episodes. The baby might seek out a nipple frantically but reject it when sucking has begun. Alternatively, she may fall asleep briefly but wake up moments later crying.

Parents with colicky babies are usually frustrated and exhausted by the persistent crying. They may feel guilty and inadequate because they are unable to soothe the crying baby. While staying calm is easier said than done, you can try several strategies to soothe your colicky baby. Keep in mind that you should not use all the strategies at once, but rather, try each one at a time before proceeding to the next. These strategies include:

Reducing stimulation including limiting visitors and exposing the baby to new experiences during the late afternoon and early evening. Dim lights, sing or speak in low but soothing tones and keep distractions to a minimum.

If you suspect your crying baby is upset due to gastrointestinal complications, apply pressure to baby’s abdomen. To do this, place the baby facing down on your lap, or upright with the tummy against your shoulder. Rub or pat his back gently.

Try gripe water-Though there is a lot of controversy about this remedy, gripe water consisting of sodium bicarbonate and herbs has been used for years to soothe colicky babies. Actually, many moms swear by this remedy, however it is important to talk to your pediatrician before administering gripe water.

Burping

Burping is not mandatory but is necessary in some circumstances to release air swallowed during feeding. This often happens when a baby is frantic to eat and gulps air with milk which causes gas. The air trapped in the baby’s tummy causes discomfort making her fussy. Strange enough, while some babies are bothered by air in the tummy, others are good to go and do not need burping.

Needs sleep

You expect a baby to nod off to sleep when he is tired, however, that is harder than you thought. Instead of falling to sleep easily, babies cry and fuss especially when they are tired. To get the baby to fall asleep easily, cuddle them, sing soothingly or rock them gently.

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Not feeling well

In some instances, a baby will cry because they are not feeling well. When your crying baby sounds weaker or cries in a different tone from what you are used to. This can be a sign that she is unwell. Since nobody knows your baby as well as you do, if you feel that something is no right, call your pediatrician or general practitioner.

Ultimately, you need to know that it is normal for babies to cry, after all, this is how they communicate, so try not to be too hard on yourself when you are unable to pacify your crying baby.

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