by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016
Do you ever wonder what makes a baby cry? As crying is one of the few ways babies have of communicating their needs to us, they cry about almost anything. They have a special cry when they are hungry, feel pain, have anxiety and are over stimulated. Even when they have gas, are exhausted, scared or frustrated, babies fuss and cry. It must be frustrating and stressful when they are doing their best to communicate to us and we don’t understand. Stressful not just for babies, but also for parents, who by nature want to respond with action. But, how can we respond appropriately?
To begin, feed your baby on demand, yes on demand:
When you’re hungry, how do you feel? Would eating change your mood? Then feed your baby when they are hungry. Feeding on demand does not create spoiled children. Of course don’t automatically assume that your baby’s cries indicate that he is hungry. Just give the baby your breast and see what happens. If he still cries, check his diaper and if that’s not it, then try some of the following:
Speak Gently: Try speaking softly and gently or even better, try singing. Your baby knows your voice very well and will recognize the tone and respond to it. Even if you are a little off tune, baby won’t mind. Research has shown that babies like the sounds of female voices but that does not mean dad can’t give this a try too!
Relaxing Strokes: Sometimes babies cry because they just want to be comforted. Maybe they’ve woken up abruptly or something frightened them. A nurturing stroke can make a world of difference. Try holding baby and gently stroking his back.
Make a Move: That’s right, try moving around. Babies love motion as it reminds them of being in utero. But what kind of movement? You might try walking, rocking, jiggling or swaying.
Swaddling: If you are not sure how to swaddle, ask your pediatrician, a nurse or experienced mother how to swaddle the baby. For many infants, being wrapped tightly in a blanket makes them feel safe and secure.
“Shushing” Sounds: Many babies are soothed by white noise. Some things to try: a humidifier, fan, vacuum and clothes dryer. It is important to be sure the “shushing” sounds are as loud as your baby’s crying.
Fresh Air: Try going outdoors. For many babies just being outside in the fresh air can soothe. Maybe it’s the sounds of the birds, the wind or the sun, whatever it is, many babies will calm by being outdoors. Maybe this will even calm you, too.
Have a Break: For moms, if you’ve been trying and trying to soothe your baby to no avail, give dad, your partner, grandma or even a trusted friend a try. They may have their own unique way of helping baby to calm and quiet.
Specially trained Certified Infant Massage Teachers (CIMTs)
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This professional training is for those interested in working with families by becoming a Certified Infant Massage Teacher (CIMT®). A CIMT® is not only an instructor, but also an educator who teaches the art of infant massage to parents or caregivers in the presence of their babies.
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