When Baby Won’t Stop Crying!
Ah this is so hard! The mix of emotions it creates; self doubt, worry, frustration and rage…
These are all normal feelings and speaking about them more openly can really help us as parents.
Babies generally cry for a reason – a need of some form has not been met. First off we need to make sure baby is ok health wise. So check baby’s temperature , check them for a rash or any signs of discomfort, keep an eye on nappy output, if you are concerns about the medical well being of your little one please seek support from a medical professional – your Health Visitor, Pharmacist, GP, 111 or A&E in an emergency.
Common reasons babies cry.
- hunger (this is the most frustrating one when you know they are hungry and they just won’t feed, because they got themselves all worked up). Try popping a couple of drops of milk on their lips then offering breast/bottle. Sometimes they need to be comforted in a way first before they will relax enough to feed. If your little one is going through a developmental growth spurt they may choose to feed little and often and way out of the natural rhythm they created previously. This is ok, follow you baby and if in doubt offer milk.
- nappy needs changing. This may seem obvious but babies change their rhythms and can develop reactions to things at various ages. Some nappies can cause discomfort suddenly when they never did before. So change the nappy and check for soreness/discomfort.
- tired. Again, like feeding this can be frustrating when you know they just need to sleep and all will be better. Growth spurts can make the world super exciting and over simulating very quickly which can affect their ability to switch off and give in to the sleep pressure. Before they can sleep they need to be regulated and calmed. Lyndsey has lots of great sleep resources here
- need for reconnection and comfort to help them regulate. Sometimes there is no exact pinpointed reason. But reconnection and comfort will support them to regulate and calm.
- reflux/colic. Reflux is when the oesophagus, which is not yet fully developed, lets milk back up through the wind pipe. It can be uncomfortable for little one, cause bring up of milk too. Colic is a label given for unexplained crying. Both are not diagnoses. They are labels. If you think either of these apply to your little one first off access qualified feeding support – sometimes feeding position / habits can be the reason behind the intake of excess air (this is no matter how you are feeding your little one).
- Purple Crying this was created due to safeguarding issues that arose from extended periods of crying. There are mixed responses and believes regarding purple crying /colic. Many argue we need to do more to support parents and investigate the potential reasoning for the crying, rather than just label it.
- P: Peak of crying is usually around 2 months
- U: Unexplained – it comes on without much warning
- R: Resists soothing
- P: Pain – your baby may seem like they’re in pain
- L: Long – the crying may last for several hours a day
- E: Evening – it’s often worse later in the day
So what can we do?
Here are some personal tips to try when little one is unsettled. It is really important to remember it is not a reflection on you as a parent if your little one cries, you are good enough! You have got this! These tips are to help you and your little one to feel calmer. If at any point you feel the rage from the frustration and dis-regulation it is always best to pop baby somewhere safe and give yourself a moment to breath and calm. most of the suggestions below are to help you as much as help baby.
Feed them, change them, move with them! This is always the first sequence I recommend. If in doubt feed them (don’t worry about the clock! ). Change their nappy (even if it doesn’t feel wet/dirty). Sometimes the undressing and air to their skin helps regulate them. Move – dance , sway, bounce on a ball, walk with them – any kind of movement can be really soothing for little ones and helps them settle. I then would repeat these if needed.
Skin to Skin! Close skin contact against your chest can really help. This can regulate their heart rate and breathing. So hold them close take a few deep breaths. Try box breathing Skin to skin can be done in bed, sat on the sofa, in the sling (this is great if you are worried about getting cold), in the bath.
Sing/Whitenoise/Shushing! Singing, listening to music or other sounds to help shift the minds focus from being in that heightened state of alert. you may combine this with gentle movement too.
Fresh air & change of space! Change of space can really help you both. Move to a different part of the house. Fresh air can be calming for you both too. Helping you to take deeper breaths and the fresh air helps reset the nervous system a little too.
Change of face! This is hard! But call for support – call a friend, family member or partner to help take over for a bit. Sometimes that change of person can work wonders. Why? not because you are rubbish and the other person has a special nak. nope, because our babies are super sensitive and sometimes having a new person come in who’s own stress levels are lower will help them lower their too.
Water! Give baby a warm bath, or have a bath together and combine skin to skin and warm water. This can be magic for some babies.
Headphones! So for me I found the ‘leave them in a room and walk away to calm down’ really hard and actually made me worse! The guilt and stress of listening to them cry and not being there was too much. So I found headphones my new best friend. I would pop baby in the sling skin to skin. Throw on a cardigan and coat and go for a walk around the house or outside. I had to feel my baby close to me when he was crying but the sound of crying was too much. So headphones really helped me. I would listen to music or breathing techniques or podcast or even call a friend. I would sing, talk and walk. Helping shift my focus and reduce my stress/anger/frustration but also still keep my baby close.
Car! This can be helpful but it is important to consider your own stress levels, as if you are too heightened you may not be focused enough to be able to drive safely . But some find popping baby safely in the car seat and having some music on, windows open can help calm you , and sometimes baby too. Baby being safely in the carseat alone reduces the risk of rage taking over and baby being harmed (like walking away). Freshair and refocus on something else can help us reduce some of our stress. The motion of the car can help some babies fall asleep too.
Things that calm you! Important part is to ensure you regulate yourself so you can support your little one to regulate. Super Kids Therapy taught me some great adult ‘re-set’ techniques; chew gum/nuts, this helps release tension in the jaw; Drink through a straw/sport bottle, sucking helps reset the brain; squeeze or spin or push safe objects (again to help release tension); blow up a balloon (this is about taking deep breaths).
Parenting is super hard! You are most definitely doing better than you think you are! Seek support, talk to others and mostly know you are not alone !
Personal great places to access support are
- The Huddle of course haha . Our groups are judgement free and open to all parents! Mum, Dad, Partners, grandparent, carer, relative, friend! Having a hard day? just pop in for a chat and some tlc.
- Your health visitor can support you with strategies and health questions
- Lyndsey Hookway’s content on social media is often very reassuring and informative.