Coping with Crying

It’s hard having a baby who cries a lot. Anyone who tells you “you’ll get used to it” or “after a while you won’t need sleep any more”, is most definitely LYING! Of course crying is distressing for parents. In fact, listening to an infant crying has actually been shown to cause physiological changes (that’s changes in our hormones, heart rate, breathing and even blood pressure (this may be beginning to sound familiar!) in both mums AND dads.

parents addicted to the mobile phone while your child is unattendedInterestingly, the same studies found that first time parents had more reaction to babies’ crying than parents of two or more children. This is unsurprising as parents with more than one child aren’t ‘newbies’ to parenting. They have a store of knowledge they’ve accumulated (usually due to trial and error admittedly!) to refer to, that first time parents don’t have. First time parents need time to discover their baby’s unique cues. It can be really helpful to think of your baby’s cries as their way of communicating. Observing and listening to your baby closely may help you identify different types of cries for different needs. For example your baby’s “I need a hug” cry will be different to her “I’m hungry” cry.

So what are baby’s needs? Babies, like all of us, have both physical and emotional needs. Most of us will be able to name at least a few of the physical needs our babies have. For example – hunger, thirst, pain, tiredness, feeling too warm or cold, or if baby has a dirty or wet nappy. Sometimes it’s more difficult to identify a baby’s emotional need but babies may cry if they are afraid, bored, overstimulated or lonely just like us. Many parenting experts believe that our babies may cry to heal too, that crying may help them to release stressful feelings just like for some adults, who find they feel better after a good cry after (or during!) a stressful situation.

We know from research that babies are quite good at figuring out the emotions of the people around them at a very early age so it can help to be mindful about how we react to our baby’s crying. This can be tricky if you’ve being woken up 20 times last night, you’re exhausted, you just sat down to watch Coronation street and all you want to do is STOP THE CRYING!

But here we go again. But this time, take a deep breath. Notice how your body responds to your baby’s crying. Relax your jaw and allow your shoulders to drop away from your ears. Relax your tummy and take some slow deep breaths. Your baby needs your presence to be calm and reassuring to help them through whatever difficult sensations or feelings they’re experiencing. Keeping yourself calm can help you to identify your baby’s need more quickly and respond in whatever way they need. This sounds easy but sometimes it’s VERY VERY hard.

Here are a few other tips (some from fellow Gentlebirth instructors who had babies who liked to cry!) that might help:

Baby boy at home

  • Have your baby checked for lip or tongue tie. This can affect her ability to latch properly if you’re breastfeeding and may contribute to wind problems if you’re bottle or breastfeeding. Lip tie especially can be hereditary, so look out for family members with gaps between their front teeth – this can be a telltale sign that it might run in your family.
  • Get outside. Crying can be less overwhelming and easier to cope with outdoors, and getting out in nature can help you to relax.
  • Take time out/look for support from someone calm and understanding. Mums (and sometimes mums-in-law!), sisters and brothers and even good friends can be so helpful if Dad is away at work or not around to give you a break and a little breathing space.
  • Carry your baby. Studies have shown that babies who are cried more, cry less. Slings can be invaluable for this. If you’re not sure about using a sling, book a consultation with a baby wearing expert, as there are loads of different types and there’s one out there to suit everyone!
  • Massage your baby. Taking time out to relax with your baby teaches them the skill of relaxation and touch stimulates the release of a hormone called oxytocin which has a calming effect on both the giver and the receiver of the massage. Massage can also help to relieve wind and constipation. Getting to a baby massage class means you’like meet other mums and babies too and you’ll realise that you’re not the only one going through this experience. You may also pick up some handy tips from the other mums!??????????????????????????????????
  • Lastly, look after yourself. Don’t spend your baby’s nap times or your precious babysitting time cleaning and running around. Get out for a walk, go for a swim, have a massage or get your eyebrows done! To look after your baby you need to make sure you’re being as gentle and careful with yourself as you are with your baby.

And don’t forget about the Gentlebirth app! There are loads of fab tracks on it for breast and bottle feeding, ¬†mindfulness, relaxation and much more.

Use the code GBPHYSIO when registering to be entered in a draw to win a year’s subscription to the app.



More information (and pics!) on tongue tie/lip tie here:

And feel free to contact us if you’ve questions!