Let’s face it. Parenthood is a juggling act.
Actually, it’s a bit like flailing around awkwardly with a bowling ball, a flaming torch, a few dozen knives and a nuclear bomb. Showering is impossible, it takes over an hour to get ready to go anywhere, and you accessorize with mashed bananas and spit-up. You haven’t worn makeup in over a month, and your idea of a good time is a full night’s sleep. You seem to spend every minute of the day folding the bottomless pile of laundry.
To top it off, your dear little cherub has turned into the devil incarnate and seems to cry all the time.
Every parent struggles with the issue of crying children, especially when they’re so young that you can’t really talk to them about using their words. A crying infant can be especially hard on a new mom. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held my screaming child with tears streaming down my face wishing I was a telepathic.
I will tell you one thing that I have learned after three kids and a lot of fumbling around to find what works. When your child is crying, it means something. Babies do not just cry to exercise their lungs (as the old wives’ tale goes), or to spite you, or just for the fun of it, or whatever other reason you may have heard. They are communicating the only way they know how.
Parenting Tips: Checklist For a Crying Baby
When my babies were crying, I went through a mental checklist that was usually pretty dependable. If you can’t get your baby to stop crying, check for the following:
1. Is she hungry? True, every parent knows this one. However, there were a few times when I thought to myself, “There’s no way this kid can be hungry. I fed her an hour ago,” only to find that she was starving. (Gobbled up a jar of baby food like it was pureed frosted flakes.) Kids go through growth spurts and sometimes they need to eat more frequently, so don’t be quick to rule this one out even if she has eaten recently.
2. Is she tired? If she’s so tired that she’s into the kicking and screaming phase, she’s probably over-tired. Try taking her for a walk and pointing things out around her. She will likely stop crying, lay her head on her shoulder, and nod off. If it’s the middle of the night, you can just hold herclose and bounce her. A car ride can also help.
3. Could she be teething? She may be tearing at her gums, drooling a lot, or chewing on your finger. She may feel warm, and her gums may be hot and swollen. Teething brings on fever and body aches andawhole slew of things that would make anyone cry. Give her something cold to chew on, like a cold washcloth or a frozen carrot. You can also try homeopathic teething tablets. These can be very effective.
4. Could she be too hot or too cold? Remove her clothes or wrap her in blankets as needed.
5. Full diaper?
6. Is something hurting her? Check for diaper rash, gas or something sharp on her clothes.
7. It is likely that she simply wants your attention, or a little reassurance. Pick her up and hold her. A number of studies show that skin-to-skin contact can improve mood and stabilize body temperature, breathing and heart rate. Babies especially need this when they are teething or when they are frightened, such as when they wake up from a nightmare. If your arms get tired, I highly recommend getting a baby wrap. Then you can continue on with your day and your baby will be quite content holding on to you. Read this for a powerful story about how skin-to-skin contact helped a mother save her daughter’s life. http://fiercemamas.blogspot.com/2009/10/saving-my-baby.html
Do not be afraid to hold your children and cuddle with them when they are crying. You will not spoil them by loving them. Before you know it, you’ll be hugging them goodbye as they head off to college. Cherish these moments.
The laundry can wait.