Crying is a newborn baby's main method of communication, and is intended to tell you that something is wrong. Crying is designed to get your attention and inform you of a need so you can respond quickly. Younger babies cry because of their temperament, sleep cycles and feeding patterns. It is completely normal behaviour - all babies cry! Crying is a way of a newborn shutting out stimuli when they're overloaded. Learning the nuances of your baby's cries is part of the process of getting to know your newborn child. This can take weeks or months, during which time you should try be patient and attentive. Learning to recognize them is rewarding and can strengthen your bond with your baby. It is important that your baby trusts you. The quicker you respond to your newborns needs, the more secure they will feel. Research shows that a responsive attitude at this early age leads to toddlers who cry less.
Remember a baby will never cry to irritate you! Babies cry for a number of very good reasons. These may be because they are:
- Hungry - often the most likely reason your newborn cries
- Have wind or colic - winding your baby will be a regular activity
- Are uncomfortable - perhaps they need their nappy changed?
- Overtired - being unable to sleep will stress a newborn
- Sick - a sick baby is never a happy baby
- Overstimulated - too much activity can overload a newborn
- Naturally tense - some babies are born predisposed to be tense
Some babies suffer long bouts of unexplainable crying. This is commonly referred to as colic. Some people believe colic is due to stomach pain caused by wind, but there is no definitive explanation. Repeated studies suggest that infant crying and fussing is a normal part of development and that this improves over time.
A newborn can differentiate between the sound of a human voice and other sounds. Try to pay attention to how your newborn responds to your voice. Responses may be subtle, which over time you will learn to recognize.
Tips for comforting your baby
Try some of these time tested methods for calming your baby:
Stimulation - reduce the stimulation around your baby.
Wind - place your baby in an upright position against your shoulder and pat their back gently.
Sucking - sucking on a breast, bottle, fingers or a dummy is very comforting for babies.
Comfort - carry your baby close to you in a baby carrier or sling.
Massage - gently stroke and massage your baby.
Voice - just the mere presence of you and a soothing word can calm your baby.
Music - rhythmic sounds or music can sometimes help comfort newborns.
Movement - rocking in your arms, or simply push your baby in his pram.
Fresh air - some fresh air might just do the trick.
Bath - a warm bath can instantly calm some babies.
Seek advice from your doctor if your baby's crying seems unusual, or if you are unable to calm him after some time.