Cries for Comfort

Newborn baby boy in bed on a green blanket cryingWhy do babies cry? Well, to put it simply: they have to—it’s their only mode of communication. Crying is your baby’s way of letting you know that he needs something, he wants something or that something is wrong.

Reasons for Crying and Comforting Techniques

  • I’m hungry.

A hungry baby is a furious baby—one who’ll cry relentlessly until this most basic need is met. This is an easy problem to fix, and many mothers will try feeding first when their baby cries.

  • I’m sleepy.

Sometimes newborns have trouble falling asleep when they’re tired. Believe it or not, sleeping is a learned skill! By establishing sleep routines that fit your family, you can help your baby learn to sleep when he needs to.

  • My tummy hurts.

Tummy troubles are a major source of crying. He may need to be burped or, if you notice him squirming around or pulling his knees up to his chest, he may have painful gas. You can help by holding his feet and “bicycling” them to help release gas, or give him baby gas drops, which can be very helpful.

  • I’m hot/cold/uncomfortable.

If you can’t soothe baby with milk, a nap, or a good burp, then there may be something causing pain or discomfort that you can’t see. If he’s obviously hot and sweaty, take off a layer of clothing. If his skin feels cold to the touch, add a layer. Otherwise, strip him down and look for things like itchy tags, a hair wrapped around his toe (more common than you would think), an eyelash in his eye, or some kind of marks on his skin that could point to the culprit.

  • I’m colicky. Sorry, mom.

Some babies are very difficult to soothe, even when all their basic needs are met. If your baby cries for hours a day, three or more days a week, talk to your pediatrician about colic. As long as baby’s health checks out okay, the doctor will probably tell you that it’s nothing to worry about, although it’s really hard to deal with for moms. Try to keep in mind that your baby isn’t hurting or uncomfortable, and that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Try what you can to soothe him, like:

  • Rocking, bouncing up and down, swinging or other types of motion
  • Nursing, if he’ll give it a chance
  • Singing or loud shushing noises (the shushing sound is like what he heard in the womb and can be calming)
  • Holding him in different positions: Up on your shoulder, lying on his tummy or side, or semi-seated in your lap.

Soothing Yourself

If you can’t calm your baby, it’s okay to put him down somewhere safe, like his crib, and leave the room for a few minutes. It’s very nerve-wracking when nothing works to quiet a baby, and every mom needs a break now and then. You can go back to him once you feel calmer or call another trusted person to come help.