All babies cry – fact. So don’t beat yourself up by thinking you’re a bad mum as it’s just your baby’s way of telling you he needs you. “Crying is part of your newborn baby’s language – it’s his way of communicating. When he cries he’s telling you how he feels and what he needs at that moment in time,” says Siobhan Mulholland, author of Coping with Crying and Colic. But the good news is that as your baby grows he’ll cry less and less as he’ll find other ways to communicate with you. In the meantime check out our guide to why your young or older baby could be crying and how to soothe him…
Combining bottlefeeding with breastfeeding means you can get the benefits of both for you and your baby.
One of the most common reasons that babies cry is hunger. “A newborn’s stomach is very small, approximately the size of his fist, so his tiny tummy will need feeding little and often,” says Siobhan. Crying is his way of letting you know exactly when that next feed is due. “But if your baby’s just been fed and then starts crying it’s probably not down to hunger.”
What to do:
Spot your baby’s ready to feed signs, for example hand sucking, lip puckering and rooting (when your baby turns his head and starts sucking when his cheek is stroked), so you can avoid him crying from hunger in the first place.
Know your nappy rash!
Needing a nappy change?
Imagine sitting in a soiled nappy – not a nice thought is it? Babies don’t like it any more than you would, so it’s no surprise they cry over this one. “If you’ve just fed your baby and he’s crying, check his nappy next,” says Siobhan. “But you can’t always rely on crying as a sign his nappy needs changing if he’s just had a wee, as modern disposables can be particularly effective and your baby is unlikely to know he’s wet.”
What to do:
As a baby’s more likely to cry with a poo-filled nappy than with a wee-filled one check it regularly, especially when you’re out, so you can change him before he gets uncomfortable.
Is your baby crying for attention only? It is one of the reasons you may wait a few moment before going to your crying baby.
Too hot or cold?
A young baby has difficulty regulating body temperature. “But you can monitor whether he’s getting too hot or too cold by feeling the back of his neck and removing or adding layers accordingly,” says independent health visitor Anne White.
It seems obvious, but it can be easy to forget when you’re busy that if you’ve bundled your baby up in hats, gloves and multiple layers for outdoors, you need to take them off again when you come back inside!
What to do:
“A naked baby loses body heat quickly so bathe and dress him in a warm room away from draughts to stop this making him cry,” says Anne.
Just like adults, babies can get too tired to sleep, meaning they get so tetchy when too much is going on, they can’t relax. “Young babies really can’t cope with too much stimulation. It takes very little to over stimulate him: being kept awake too long, being handled by too many different people, or experiencing too many different, sudden noises, lights or voices,” says Siobhan.
“An overtired baby needs to sleep and he should have no problem letting you know this – he will be irritable, fretful and fussy, and he may rub his eyes and cry.”
What to do:
“If your baby’s got distressed by too much activity you could try stretching out on the sofa with him lying on your chest until he calms down enough to go in his cot,” says Anne.