Babies depend on their parents for literally everything. Plus, since they cannot speak, they use crying as the main method of expressing their needs. This means that when your baby cries, it is usually for a reason. She cries to let you know that she is hungry, sleepy, scared, sick, dirty, wet, lonely, or bored. She cries to let you know that she needs your attention and care.
While it may be difficult to interpret your baby's cries at first, it gets easier with time. You will learn to understand her, and before long you will be able to interpret all her cries and cater to her specific needs.
That said, a lot of parents-to-be are not prepared for the episodes of what seems like inconsolable, unabated wailing. When this happens, it feels like no matter what you do they just won't stop crying. Your baby just cries and cries, even after feeding her and changing her diaper and even rocking her for hours.
These episodes are enough to drive any parent crazy. Well, this article will take a closer look at what you need to look out for when your baby won't stop crying, and some of the things you can do to make her calm down.
1. Check for discomfort or illness
Most of the time, the baby will cry because she is uncomfortable. In such a situation, check whether she’s too hot or cold. You can do this by confirming the room temperature or by checking whether she is underdressed or overdressed. If you suspect an illness, take her temperature. If she has a fever, call your doctor or health care provider.
2. Learn your baby’s cries
Generally, when a baby suddenly cries in a high-pitched shriek, it indicates that the baby is in pain. When the cry is low pitched and it rises and falls, it usually indicates hunger. However, every baby is different. Some babies have a more sensitive temperament and tend to be more dramatic in their crying than other babies. This is why you need to take the time to learn more about your baby. Observing and listening to her will help you identify the different sounds of her cries, making it easier for you to identify the reason for her crying. Figuring this out will make it easier for you to soothe her.
3. Take a break
Sometimes, the inconsolable crying of your baby will leave you overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. This is completely normal. When you begin to feel like you are losing control or reaching a breaking point, it is okay to safely put the baby in her crib and leave the room. Let your partner, a close family member, or a trusted friend take over for a while. If this isn’t an option, checking on the baby every five minutes and leaving him to calm down by himself is okay. Letting your baby cry within reason is actually healthy. It might even help them start to learn how to calm themselves down. Use the few minutes you've freed up to cater to some of your own needs.
4. Pay attention to other cues
When your baby cries, there are usually other subtle cues that you can look out for that will help communicate her needs more clearly. Some of the clearer signs include yawning or rubbing her eyes to indicate that they are tired. You should also pay attention to the baby’s facial expressions, body movements, and vocal sounds which might also help you identify the reason for crying.
5. Put yourself in their place
Sometimes, when you just can't figure out what is troubling your little one, try putting yourself in her tiny little shoes. Try to figure out what would bother you if you were in her place. Maybe there is too much noise, or the light is too bright, or she is just bored. Once you have identified the possible problem, take appropriate action. For example, you could provide soothing white noise to mask the ambient sounds around the house, or dim the lights, or change the scenery by taking her outside.
6. Use other relief strategies
When you are unable to identify the reason why your baby is crying, there are several relief strategies you can try. Consider rocking your baby using rapid tiny movements in your arms or in a rocking chair. You could also try swaddling her, humming or singing to her, or giving her a warm bath. Other options are taking her out for a ride on her stroller, distracting her by making quiet noises, making funny faces at her, and massaging her arms, legs, and back.
7. Use one strategy at a time
When using these relief strategies, try not to use one technique after another in quick succession or within a short amount of time. Using several relief strategies at once or in quick succession often results in the baby getting overstimulated. Instead, consider using one technique at a time. Stick with it for a while, and if the baby does not calm down, move on to the next one.
8. Address the colic
Colic is the main reason for inconsolable crying during the early months of infancy. All babies cry several times a day. However, when your baby cries for over three hours daily, it’s called colic. If it is confirmed by your doctor that your baby has colic, you can help reduce the crying by trying a special massage designed for colicky babies. The massage helps with digestion, sleeping, and helping your baby to calm down. The good news is that there are tutorials on how to do this that you can get on YouTube to get you started.
At the end of the day, no two babies are alike. Try to avoid having specific expectations or making comparisons especially if your baby is very challenging. This is important for your own emotional and mental health.
Some babies naturally take longer to calm down than others. This should not be a reason for panic. Try to focus on the subtle cues your baby is using to communicate with you, such as sighing, squirming, or sucking. They will usually communicate with these cues first, and when they go unnoticed, they will then resort to crying.
Finally, if you suspect that your baby is crying because of serious pain or illness, do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician.