Crying, baby’s way of communicating

Let’s start with the basics. Your baby can’t talk yet. Even if you can’t wait to hear his voice, his adorable “areuhs” and other chirps, you’ll have to make do with little cries and, above all, crying in the first few weeks! And yes, crying is your toddler’s main means of communicating…

©Lucie Cipolla

When baby cries, he expresses different needs:

  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Pain (tummy ache, colic, stuck burp…)
  • Discomfort: too hot or too cold
  • Need for your arms and to be comforted
  • Need to be changed
  • Emotional discharge…

This list is not exhaustive and can be completed with the help of your paediatrician or family doctor.

How to soothe your baby

Rest assured, as parents, you’ll soon be able to recognize your child’s different cries, we promise. Cries of hunger won’t sound like cries of embarrassment and so on. In the meantime, as there’s no magic wand to soothe your infant, discover our tips to try out to console your cutie!

©Lucie Cipolla

Baby cries before, during or after feeding:

  • Before his favorite feeding time, baby may simply be hungry.
  • During and after feeding, he may need to burp, even if he’s breast-fed.
  • Colic, stomach ache…
  • Baby isn’t hungry, but he needs to suck or suckle to soothe himself.

Baby cries in bed

  • He has trouble falling asleep
  • On the contrary (it’s too easy otherwise!), he’s tired of sleeping.
  • The temperature is not right, he’s too hot or too cold.

Baby cries in his bouncer or on his playmat

  • Tired or over-stimulated
  • Baby wants you
  • Baby is bored and wants to play (try an activity arch!)

Baby cries in your arms

  • Baby needs to sleep
  • Baby is bored
  • Baby needs changing…

There are lots of reasons why baby needs you! The list above is not exhaustive…

Comforting your baby

As you can see, there are many ways to console your baby or respond to his needs.

Forget Auntie Suzanne’s advice to let him cry because “it’ll make his lungs hurt” or “give him bad habits”. First of all, babies don’t throw tantrums (their brains are too immature to come up with anything!). Secondly, neuroscience has recently taught us that the stress caused by crying is harmful to toddlers.

Of course, don’t go overboard and blame yourself if, despite all your efforts, your child still cries… You’re doing your best and that’s fine.

We’d like to give you a few more tips to help calm your baby’s crying. It’s up to you to test which of these options your baby will like:

  • Swaddling.
  • Babywearing.
  • A stroller ride.
  • Massaging baby.
  • If your baby’s tummy hurts, massage him clockwise. You can also bend his legs towards his tummy and lay him on your forearm to relieve his pain.
  • Rock him.
  • Sing him a song.
  • Skin-to-skin contact for toddlers.
  • Give him a bath.
  • Breastfeed.
  • Place baby under a hood (yes, it works on some babies!) or test white noise.

When baby’s inconsolable and you lose patience…

When your child’s cries go on and on (and this is just the beginning, all right, all right), it’s easy to lose your patience. Fed up, angry, sad… Add a good dose of fatigue and you’ve got patience that’s long overdue and can lead to Shaken Baby Syndrome. Of course, you should never shake your child.

©Lucie Cipolla

When you feel the cup is full, ask your partner, a friend or your family for help. Are you alone? Put your child safely in a cot, then leave the room and breathe to calm down. Take the time you need. It’s better to let your baby cry than risk shaking him or her!

Specific cries

If you’ve tried everything (changing him, feeding him, rocking him, stimulating him, calming him…) and he’s still crying, then your baby may have colic, be experiencing a growth spurt, or the famous end-of-day discharge cries… The latter arrive around 5-6 p.m. and baby may be inconsolable for a few hours. This is a trying time for parents, who feel helpless.

If baby is very hot, he may also be ill. Consult your doctor without delay.

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