New Parents: When babies cry…
September 14, 2020
Is my baby crying too much?!?
All babies cry. Most babies cry a lot from two weeks to two months of age. Some cry more than others, and some cry longer than others. For many new parents, crying is one of the most stressful parts of coping with a newborn.
In some cases, extreme stress and a temporary lapse of emotional control in a caregiver can lead to actions that result in abusive head trauma. In fact, the most common trigger for abusive head trauma is simply a crying baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement on the medical aspects of abusive head trauma and points out that actions that lead to abusive head trauma are often the result of when caretakers experience stress and get to the end of their rope.
However, there is a bright side: The key to preventing actions that lead to abusive head trauma is to understand how common feelings of frustration, isolation, and exhaustion are during the first few months of an infant’s life.
- Try all the soothing tricks. Crying babies want to be soothed. You may need to try a few things, over and over, before they calm. Try holding them, feeding them, swaddling them, gently rocking them, singing to them. If these do not work, put the baby down and take a break. Be sure your baby is in a safe sleep environment (on their back on a firm sleep surface with a tight-fitting sheet, away from soft blankets, toys, pillows, and other bedding materials). While some babies cry for a long time, many parents are surprised at how rapidly babies will cry themselves to sleep.
- Pay attention to your own needs. The challenges of new mothers can certainly feel overwhelming sometimes. Rest as much as you can—try sleeping when the baby does. Find time for yourself when your partner or other caring adult watches the baby. Put on your headphones, give a friend or relative a call, have a cup of tea, or just relax.
- Connect with others. Social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak can be isolating. Try video chats or social media to stay in touch.
- Use your “helpers.” Engage older siblings as much as you can by encouraging them to be your special helpers, so they can help out in developmentally appropriate ways.
- Seek help. Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States. If you had a history of depression before your baby was born, you may be at higher risk for postpartum depression. Speak with your provider sooner rather than later to help foresee this potential condition. Many doctors, nurses, and mental health providers are now set up for telehealth visits and may be able to help you by video or phone.
- Your pediatrician is here to help. Never hesitate to call for advice. Your pediatricians is an excellent resource for understanding your baby and your own needs, including those related to postpartum depression.