Yikes! This is a stressful one. There is nothing worse than a crying baby. Something about that plaintive wail just sets the teeth on edge and gets the adrenaline pumping. This is the time that you need to be most relaxed to help your baby yet your shoulders are tense and your heart is racing! This article is primarily concerned with helping you deal with the stress and related challenges of a crying baby. For tips on how to soothe a crying infant, go to How to Soothe A Crying Baby. Here are some tips to help YOU stay calm. It isn't easy, but we have all been there. And you can do this!
- First and foremost, stay calm. Remind yourself that all babies cry and this isn't about you. If you can remove your own anxiety from the situation and convey a sense of calm to the baby, she will often settle down on her own.
- Reassure yourself that your baby is well. Check her diaper, her clothing and her temperature. Has she eaten lately? Could she be hungry? Is she over stimulated? Often, by working through the checklist of baby needs, you can actually solve the crying problem and thereby solve your own stress problem. But what if that just does not work?
- If necessary, fake it. Act as if you are in control and you are halfway there. Sing a lullaby. This is a great way to slow your breathing as it is impossible to pant and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" simultaneously. Tell baby that she is going to be okay. Offer a soothing mantra to your baby. It will soothe you, as well. "You are going to be just fine" is a tried and true classic. Your baby won't know you are actually talking to yourself here.
- Try some sort of rhythmic motion. Pacing works well, as does rocking. Again these activities soothe both you and your baby. (Notice a pattern here? Babies cry because they are stressed. Calming them down both stops the crying and relieves your stress at the same time.)
- Remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can. If you are in public and you feel self-conscious, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. It is so easy for people to stare and judge, but your baby needs you to help her relax, and well-meaning advice from strangers is not helpful here. Ignore other people and focus on your baby. Tell yourself that you are doing your best and then just let it go.
- Trust your instincts. If your friend or your mother-in-law is telling you to let her cry it out and you feel that is just wrong--go with your gut. Give your baby the care you feel she needs. You cannot spoil a baby and there is a biological reason for the adrenal rush you feel when she cries. It is nature's way of protecting its weakest members. Listen to those natural instincts.
- Never allow yourself to get angry with a baby. She cannot help her situation. If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated, put her down in a safe place and walk away. Never, never shake a baby. If you feel angry with your baby, find someone to talk to and get help.
- Avoid envy. Keep in mind that some babies are incredibly sensitive to stimulation of any sort and they cry a lot. Other babies are easy. If you have a fussy baby, it is hard not to feel a little jealous. Remind yourself that this too shall pass and one day your baby's special gifts will shine through.