Friday, January 9, 2015

When Babies Cry

We've had some super cold and yucky weather here in the past week. So much so that we've had to cancel both Milk Monologues on Wednesday and our Evening Milk Monologues on Thursday.

In lieu of actually getting together this week, I wanted to share some advice from La Leche League on Responding to Your Crying Baby. This is an excerpt taken from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding on that very subject:

When a baby cries, a nursing mother's immediate instinctive response is to offer her breast. Whether it's been ten minutes or two hours since baby was fed, a few minutes of sucking may be all he needs to settle down. Baby's appetite can vary from day to day, so he may really be crying because he's hungry. Or perhaps he just wants the comfort of being close to you. Either way, nursing him may be the answer.

But what if that's not what he wants after all? Then you need to check into other possible causes. Perhaps he's too warm, or maybe he's too cold. Perhaps something he is wearing is causing the problem. Try removing all of his clothes.  Look for a pin or rough label, or something binding around his leg or arm - sometimes a hair from a mother's head can wrap tightly around baby's toe. Look him over carefully from top to bottom, just to be sure that nothing is hurting or irritating his tender skin.

If he seems too warm, try leaving him in just a shirt and diaper. If the room is chilly, try wrapping him in a soft blanket. Some babies feel more secure if they are wrapped up snugly, or swaddled.

Once he is snug and dry, offer him the breast again. This time, he just may drift off to sleep. But sometimes the baby doesn't want to nurse, or has downed so much milk he repeatedly spits it up, and still he cries. What then? Try holding him against your shoulder and with a background of soft music or your own lullaby, glide through the house doing the "baby waltz." Some mothers put the baby in a baby carrier and vacuum the rugs. The droning noise of the vacuum cleaner and the accompanying body movements often lull the baby to sleep. How about a drive in the car? Or a stroll outdoors? A warm bath may soothe and relax both of you - try taking baby into the tub with you.

A time-honored way of soothing a crying baby is time spent in a trusty rocking chair together. A steady rocking rhythm, some gentle patting on his back, and perhaps a soothing lullaby can work their magic on the fussiest of little ones. In fact, Becky Conley from Illinois swears by her "magic rocker":

No matter how hectic the day or how frantic the world may seem, we can retreat to the arms of our rocker and be suddenly oblivious to it all. Peace descends on us; tensions float away; and love surrounds us like a cloud. We can go anywhere we please in our rocker: Over the years since Eli was born, we've been to desert islands, mountain ranges, endless beaches, and on a few, very special occasions, to what surely must have been heaven.

Some babies cry because they are overtired, but they aren't happy being held as they fall asleep. Try laying your baby in his cradle or on a blanket on the floor and talk or sing to him softly as you pat him gently. He may continue to fuss for a few minutes, then close his eyes and drift off to sleep. You'll soon know if he is truly tired and ready to sleep or not. If he becomes increasingly more anxious (even five minutes is a long time for a baby to cry), pick him up again.

Babies are sometimes fretful for reasons that no one, not even a mother, can understand. If you can't calm your baby right away, try not to let it upset you. "Don't take it as a personal rejection of you," a mother who has gone through the experience advises. Your baby will always benefit from a calm, loving mother. In handling any tiny baby, you have to move slowly and gently. Fast, jerky motions and loud noises may startle him. If he is already upset for some reason, accept the fact and work from there - slow and easy.

Remember - we are all here for you! If you need some help, we've got support groups available - Every Wednesday at 1 pm is Milk Monologues, and every 2nd Thursday of the month is Evening Milk Monologues at Educated Mommy. You can also get one on one help from Educated Mommy's IBCLC (the wonderful Alicia Fonder), which is charged on a sliding scale. Just give her a call at 605-553-8364.


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