What to do if your Baby Won’t Stop Crying

There is nothing more troubling to new parents than a baby’s cry.  We are built to be troubled by it, and to respond to it.  And, when our baby won’t stop crying no matter what we try to do, we end up in tears, too.

So, first and foremost, you will check with your doctor to make sure your baby is not sick or that formula needs to be changed to rule out food allergy.  If your doctor recommends any medication for your baby, such as drops for gas, then you will have that in your arsenal.   After you have consulted with your doctor, know that you have a healthy, normal baby, you begin on the guessing game.

First. you will need to ascertain if the baby may be ready to eat.  Newborns need to nurse every couple of hours, much as we would like to get four hours sleep.  If you are breastfeeding, be sure to let the baby nurse a good twenty-five minutes on one side.  He may fall asleep, in fact, new babies are notorious for this, but it is important to keep him awake for the twenty-five minutes if at all possible. 

The milk he will get at the beginning of a nursing is thinner, less caloric milk that is primarily to quench his thirst.  It is the last milk….the “hind” milk….that, after the first twenty minutes of nursing, has more fat and calories and will satisfy his hunger better and help him to go longer between feedings.

If you are having trouble keeping your baby awake for the full twenty-five minutes, “cool” him awake by unwrapping any blankets from him as he nurses, gently wipe his face and arms with a cool, damp cloth, gently jiggle and talk to him.  He is probably tired from crying and may be dropping off to sleep before he gets enough nutrients to keep him satisfied for a long stretch.

Another cause of crying is gas in the belly.  Feeding a baby too frequently can contribute to this, also if the mother who is breastfeeding is eating gassy foods such as anything from broccoli and cauliflower to even milk products, chocolate and nuts.  A baby who is suffering from a tummy ache will lie quietly, even sleep contentedly, then have a burst of sudden, piercing cries as if in pain.  The nursing mother may need to cut out any foods such as mentioned above for two or three days and see if this helps, then reintroduce them one at a time into her diet if the crying is lessened.

Be sure, also to burp your baby carefully several times during a feeding.  Some babies get so hungry, they seem to gulp air with their formula and even with breastfeeding.  Some babies burp easily, some don’t seem to need to burp at all.  Hold baby on your shoulder and pat gently but firmly.  If a burp doesn’t come up in ten minutes, you’re pretty safe to continue feeding.

Most newborns feel more secure being swaddled securely.  A light receiving blanket wrapped firmly around your baby as if he were a taco, confining even his arms and having a firm band of blanket around his belly will help soothe him.  If it is between feedings, the baby has been burped and changed, swaddling him, holding him close and using a pacifier will sometimes do the trick.

Some babies seem to have a highly sensitive nervous system.  As newborns, noises are unlikely to affect them, but they seem to need to “cry it out”.  The more we try to comfort, walk, rock, or cuddle them, the worse and more drawn-out the crying becomes.  These babies get stimulated and over-stimulated easily and the rocking, etc. that we give them only adds to their exhaustion.

A good experiment to see if your baby just needs to prepare himself for sleep by crying is make sure all his other needs are met, swaddle him up well, and then lay him in a quiet, dark room and let him cry.  Every minute seems like an eon, but seven to ten minutes…. if you can handle it….may make all the difference.  If you can hear that he is really slowing down, let him go a little longer.  If he is in full-cry after ten minutes, go get him.  You’ll go crazy if you don’t.

Pick up, check and cuddle the baby, replace and gently hold the pacifier as you rock him.  Do this for fifteen minutes to half and hour, then return him to his bed to see if he will still cry full-out for another ten minutes.  Of course, if it’s feeding time, do this during your picking-up time.  Try not to feed him until the two hour mark, or at least an hour and a half if he is a newborn.  Constant feeding will just make him more uncomfortable.

Most important, keep reminding yourself that this too will pass.  At this moment, it doesn’t feel like it will, but it will.  Your baby will be whacking home runs and riding her bike before you know it.  And you will be sharing your wisdom about newborns with other young mothers.