Hey mums. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if babies could talk? You would know what’s irritating them, when they need a feed, a change or to sleep. But no! God in His infinite wisdom designed crying to be their single most simple communication. I used to stress out when my son’s single sobs would advance to wailing for hours waking up everyone including the neighbours. You are likely to hear the myths and truths around colic, a mother’s diet or grandma tales such as ‘your mother-in-law hasn’t shaved baby’s hair yet’. For any mother, a baby’s cry could lead you to despair especially if you’ve done all you know in the books. So I did my research and here’s what I discovered about a crying baby:
I’m not crying for no reason or to manipulate
Contrary to what your in-laws or friends in the group might be telling you, babies don’t just cry for no reason or in an attempt to manipulate. Your baby cannot speak so when they cry, they’re doing their best to communicate some need to you (be it hunger, fatigue, excess gas, feeling too warm or simply wants you to stay close and feel your scent).
You’re really doing a great job
Weird huh. You may not feel like it right now but your baby actually thinks you are doing a great job. Please do not take your baby’s tears as a personal attack on your parenting. You are not a failure or a terrible mother. Don’t let the crying shake off your confidence. Instead focus on your baby’s happiness and comfort even if it’s just for a short time.
I’m not old enough to self soothe
Guess what mums. Babies are not born with the ability to self-soothe. It’s a skill they learn over time with love and patience. Leaving your baby to cry on their own doesn’t really help. In fact, leaving your baby to cry not only makes him panic and anxious but teaches him not to respond to others – like I mean why bother when no one will answer to my cries for help anyway? The best way to teach your baby to self soothe is to always respond to the cry by being there and reassuring them.
I feel safer when I’m with you
Have you ever been caught in a situation where you have checked the nappy, you know they are not hungry, he’s not too warm, there no feverish symptoms but still, they’re crying! Imagine your baby may simply want the security of being with his mama and it feels safe when you are nearby. Your smell, the sound of your voice and your touch is what they need to feel safe. Simply cuddle your baby. After all you are the most important person in their world right now.
I feel so much better in your arms
Babies do feel much better in a mother’s arms. But if you feel you are going to lose it, take a 5 minute break and leave the baby with the father, the house help, a friend or a relative. Or leave them in a safe space like the cot and go take a cup of tea, listen to the radio or focus on something other than them . Go back and check on them after 5 minutes, pick him up and try to soothe his tears. Taking small breaks can help you to better cope with crying.
- I know it’s hard sometimes, but stay calm.
Being confronted with an uncontrollably crying baby at 3 am when you’re exhausted and half asleep is not funny at all. Staying calm will help to reassure your baby. If you are restless, and start screaming at the baby, the baby will pick on your emotions and may end up feeling worse. Focus on your breathing or whatever helps you calm down. As you breastfeed, you can consider a diet rich in omega and magnesium all of which are good for the brain.
It’s OK to call for back up
Shout for daddy, ring your mother, call your housie – do whatever it is to help baby and you stay sane. Call in favours from friends and family to help you look after the baby for a while as you get fresh air. Remember ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
Please take care of yourself
If you are stressed, exhausted or drained, you won’t be capable of responding properly to your baby’s needs. Take a good hot bath, read a book, catch up with a friend, blog, get a massage or a mani/pedi or just spend time doing whatever it is that makes you feel like you.
‘’ This too shall pass’’
The tears will stop and soon your baby will be back to the happy baby you know and love.
I love you mama
Your baby may not be old enough to reach his arms around your neck and give you a squeeze to let you know he cares. He may not be able to flash one of his beautiful smiles to say you are doing a good job but one day they will. ALL YOU NEED TO KEEP IN MIND IN THE MIDST OF THE CRYING IS THAT SOMEONE LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW.