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Your newborn’s crying again. Hey, babies cry a lot. It’s normal. Even though it’s expected for babies to be fussy and cry, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for you!
You’ve covered all the normal bases like feeding, burping, diaper changing, and any physical discomfort like too hot, too cold, or pain, and the baby’s still screaming. Maybe you want to scream a little too. Maybe you’re starting to worry that there’s something more going on. Sure, crying is normal, but how can you tell what’s normal and when you need to contact your pediatrician? What if you’re doing something wrong? How much crying is too much?
Here’s the 411:
On average, babies cry for 2 to 3 hours each day for the first 6 weeks. However, perfectly healthy babies can sometimes cry up to 4-5 hours in a day. It’s the only way they know how to communicate, so of course they cry a lot. However, if your newborn is consistently crying for 3 or more hours, 3 days a week, for 3 weeks or more, they may have colic or a different condition and you should reach out to your doctor.
Aside from those physical issues, the next step is just trying to find ways to calm your baby and honestly, get through it. Deep breath. You got this mama. There is light at the end of the tunnel — we promise.
Above all, try to be patient and stay calm (we know, easier said than done). You’re keeping your baby safe and doing the best you can. That being said, never shake your baby. It doesn’t solve the problem and can cause shaken baby syndrome — head trauma that can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Instead, we’ve got some techniques that might help soothe your fussy baby. Plus, additional tips for keeping you sane as you care for your newborn.
If you’ve gone through the common reasons for why your baby might be crying, they might just be fussy. This is a strange and uncomfortable world they’ve just come into! OK, they probably aren’t dealing with a bad breakup or paying taxes just yet, but it’s no warm, safe womb either.
Luckily, there are some ways you can try to calm your newborn.
Rocking your baby can help simulate the movements they experienced in the womb. You can do this by holding them and walking or sitting in a rocking chair. Put their head to your chest so they can hear your heartbeat and breathe deeply. You can also try a motorized baby swing if you need some time to not hold the baby.
This kind of movement can often create a calming response for your little one. Some studies have shown that parental (or caregiver) rocking can work better than mechanical, so if your baby isn’t calming from being in a swing, try picking them up.
Don’t worry if you’re out of tune, you only know a third of the words, or you’re just singing happy birthday over and over (because for the life of you, you can’t think of another song right now). Your baby won’t know the difference. Whether you’re a trained vocalist or exclusive car-singer, it’s still your voice and that’s soothing for your babe.
Who isn’t a fan of a warm bath? The warm water can be soothing for babies — it’s like they’re back in the womb with that comforting amniotic fluid. Water can also be a great distraction for babies (especially if there’s bath toys and bubbles involved!).
An added win? After the bath, you have a clean baby!
Sometimes a calming touch is all your little one needs to feel better. Try a gentle and repetitive rub on the back. You can experiment with this one as well to see if different variations are more calming for your newborn.
If the back isn’t doing the trick, try rubbing the tummy, chest, arms, hands, or legs instead. If massaging or stroking over the clothes isn’t working, try putting your hand under clothes for a direct skin-to-skin contact. You can also try lotion or baby massage oils to help soothe them.
That sucking motion can be comforting for babies. Even if it’s not feeding time just yet, offering a pacifier to suck on instead can help distract and relax your newborn. Plus, they can’t suck on the pacifier and cry at the same time!
Even supermoms need time to rest and recover! This isn’t just for your own self care either — if you’re stressed, overly sleep deprived, or otherwise going a bit crazy, you won’t be able to care for your baby in the best way. Dr. Manisha Panchal says “It is important to practice acts of kindness to yourself and have your own emotional fortifications in place so that you are not providing care on an empty tank.”
There are so many ways to practice #selfcare, but if mama brain is fully concentrating on baby, here are some ideas to help you focus on you for a little bit. Even 10 minutes can make a difference.
If you’re on the verge of losing it and your baby won’t stop crying even after you’ve checked all the physical needs, put your baby down on their back in an empty crib, leave the room, close the door, and check back in 10 minutes. We don’t say this lightly, but think about it — if you lose your patience and accidentally shake or physically show your frustration to your baby, you could do much more harm than good. Don’t risk it. Check back in if you notice any noise changes (crying stops, different type of crying, etc.), but take that 10 minutes to try to relax yourself: wash your face, breathe, sit down, have a little cry yourself if you need to!
As long as you can get a safe place for your baby to stay for a little bit, going into a different room, taking some deep breaths, or a quick nap can do wonders.
Those relaxing ocean noises or classical piano don’t have to just be for the baby — choose music that’s relaxing for you too! Try a playlist like Spotify’s Sleepy Piano, Peaceful Sleep, or Relaxing Songs 2022.
If you’re enjoying some time away from your little one, you can also try some dance-y, upbeat music to get you singing along and letting loose for a little bit. 80’s or 90’s dance party anyone?
When was the last time you spoke to another adult? If you can’t remember when you last spoke to friends or family, now might be the time to reach out! Even if you spoke with them yesterday, if you need support, reach out! Sometimes a hug and some sympathy from someone close to you can help bring yourself back from that frustration breaking point.
And if they offer help like household chores, babysitting, or meals, don’t be afraid to accept help. It takes a village!
Sometimes the parent needs a time out and you know what? We think that’s totally fine! Even if it’s just breathing and counting to 10 during those especially fussy moments.
If you can get someone to watch your baby for 30 minutes or an hour, try going to a breath work or meditation class (or listen to a meditation podcast if you can’t make it to an in-person event). Getting some dedicated time to just be in your own body and mind can help you handle the rest of the day.
At the end of the day, parenting fussy babies is just plain hard — but you aren’t alone in it. While every baby and mom relationship is different, many parents struggle with fussy babies. If you think there could be something wrong with your baby, contact your pediatrician. If you just need additional guidance or help right now, you can also call the National Parent Helpline at 1-855-427-2736 or the Fussy Baby Network “warmline” at 1-877-627-9227.
Need baby support in other ways such as breastfeeding or pumping? We’re here to help with all things breastmilk, breastfeeding, and pumping! Visit our Help Center for more information or reach out to our team.
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