Sleeping and Crying
Sweet Baby: Lullabies to Soothe Your Newborn
CD available though this office.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child & Your Fussy Baby published by Ballantine, New York
How To Soothe Your Baby
It is important to understand that different methods work for different children; therefore, what worked best for your friend’s child may not necessarily work for your child. The process of discovering what works best for your child is part of discovering the special individuality of your child.
- Rhythmic rocking motions: crib, cradle, swing, rocking chair, car rides, breathing slowly and deeply while holding baby close to your chest.
- Swaddling: soft front cloth carrier.
- Sucking: pacifier, fist, wrist and fingers.
- Find a comfortable position for sleeping: put head in a corner of the crib, use the same soft blanket every night, place baby with only a diaper on father’s bare chest for a nap; sleep in the same bed with your baby.
- Sound: talk to your baby; womb sounds, heartbeat sounds, humming, sounds of running water, vacuum cleaner, music or lullabies.
- Motion: walking, dancing, crib vibrator, bounce and massage.
- Feeding: warm or cold formula, feed slowly in an upright position, burp several times during a feeding, warm hot-water bottle beside baby’s tummy during feeding.
- Position: place baby high on your shoulder with his face down and your shoulder pressing into his tummy, place baby on your hip, facing outward, and let the tummy drape over your arm, hold the baby’s cheek close to your cheek and slowly dance around in circles.
- “Remedies” of no proven value: gripe water, mixtures of whiskey, sugar and milk, antacids, anti-gas agents (simethicone), barbiturates, weak peppermint tea, avoiding milk products or avoiding sugar if you are nursing.
- Carry more: carry baby even when there is no crying during wakeful periods.
- Frequent feedings: shorten the intervals between feeding.
- Actively sleep: anticipate sleep times in order to soothe baby to sleep at those times, motionless sleep.
How To Cope: How To Care For Yourself
Techniques or Strategies for parents
- IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT: Don’t blame yourself for the crying. It’s not a reflection of parenting skills. Share your feelings with your spouse. Accept the fact that you are angry or disappointed. Openly discuss your feelings of ambivalence, anger, and guilt. Confront your anger and your sense of helplessness. Call the hospital where your child was born or call your pediatrician and tell him what every mother feels in your position: “I’m exhausted, I’m angry because my baby is crying too much. I feel isolated and helpless because nothing seems to help; people say it’s my fault and I’m afraid that I might lose control of myself…please give me the name of someone who has been through this before or a professional counselor that I can talk to.” Post-partum depression may be much more severe or prolonged if the baby is always crying. If you have family members who have been diagnosed as being depressed or you feel that your sense of hopelessness, helplessness, or sadness is severe, consider seeking professional mental health counseling. Focus on your own anguish, your own loss of self-esteem, your fears that you are a failure as a mother, instead of on the crying of the baby so you can deal with your own pain in a constructive manner.
- Call Parents Anonymous. Don’t listen to criticism. Don’t allow visitors who make you feel worse than you already do. Don’t always assume that your crying baby is hungry. Don’t psychologize: Don’t assume that the crying means that your baby is lonely, angry or insecure. Don’t be too intellectual: What does the crying mean? What is it that my baby is trying to tell me? Cling to the fact that this is a temporary stage and that the baby will outgrow it in a few months. African (“Kung”) and Central American Indian (Mayan) babies who are held all the time and are breast fed continuously throughout the day and night also have crying spells for as long as two hours despite this very close mother-baby relationships. Northeastern Brazilian infants who are described as feisty, difficult, and demanding are more likely to survive. Masai Africans admire aggressiveness, assertiveness and boldness and it is exactly these more difficult crying infants who survive adverse conditions. So maybe the reason some babies cry so much reflects nature’s way of ensuring strength of character, which is needed to become a successful warrior, hunter or leader.
- TAKE A BREAK FROM THE BABY: Keep the baby out of your bedroom in order to avoid the temptation to respond to every quiet whimper and to give you a place to retreat to for a rest. When people call to congratulate you and offer to help, don’t reflexly say “No thank you”, but ask if they wouldn’t mind baby-sitting, do an errand for you, or give you the opportunity to do something for yourself. Turn off your intercom or monitor to give your brain a mental break from your baby’s breathing sounds. Take a warm shower, lie down for 15 minutes, do minimum housework. Reduce your expectations, slow down your lifestyle. Put a sign on the door “Do Not Disturb”. Take your phone off the hook or use an answering machine. Nap when your baby sleeps; go to bed as early as possible in the evening. Never wake a sleeping baby. Don’t watch the clock to expect any predictable schedule.
- Take time for yourself. Get out of the house every day, even if it’s only for ten minutes, do something unrelated to childcare. Ask for help from your friends; contact other women where you delivered. Ask your pediatrician for some names of women who recently have gone through the ordeal of having a crying baby. Hire a baby-sitter, but don’t feel that you have to leave the house when the sitter is there. You might use this break to bathe or sleep. Find a doctor whom you can trust. Use relaxation techniques that you learned in prenatal classes.
- As a last resort, when you feel you can’t take anymore, place your baby in his crib, close as many doors as possible between you and your baby, place some earphones on and turn up the volume to drown out the sound of crying, or take a shower so that you can regain your strength to lovingly care for your baby.
Categories For Crying
- UNMET BIOLOGICAL NEEDS: Hunger, Thirst, Chilliness, Overtired, Soiled or Wet
- Comment: Babies with normal weight gain and normal examinations, who appear to be healthy in all ways, may still have periods of crying for no apparent biological reason.
- “MEDICAL” PROBLEMS: Pain, Distress, Discomfort, Teething, Illnesses, Diaper rash, Not in a comfortable position, Trapped gas, Breathing night air, Synthetic, colored or flavored vitamin drops, Allergies and food intolerances: Gas-producing foods such as cabbage, beans, onions or caffeine in mother’s diet; reaction to cow’s milk protein or soy protein. Withdrawal from drugs that mother took during pregnancy or labor.
- Comment: Elimination of all possible allergenic substances in the baby’s diet and the breast-feeding mother’s diet and the absence of any illnesses after a thorough physical examination and laboratory tests do not necessarily produce a non-crying baby. Therefore, these “medical” problems rarely cause chronic crying in babies.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL DISTRESS:
- Within the baby: Stimulus sensitive, can’t handle normal external or environmental stimulation. Lost a pacifier. Boredom, anger, temper, crankiness, naughtiness. “Leave me alone”, “No language but a cry”. Expression of a healthy ego that elicits prompt nurturing responses from parents. A signal for help, communicates a need, proximity promoting behavior. Releases tension or angry or negative feelings. An “organizing force” that allows a baby to discharge the stimulation accumulated during the day so that the baby can sleep at night. A long difficult labor.
- Comment: There is simply no way to tell whether these theories are true or not because infants cannot talk to us. The popularity of psychological theories to “explain” crying has replaced a previous popular “explanation” that it was how tense you were during the pregnancy, which caused the crying.
- Caused by the parents (“mother bashing”): High maternal anxiety during pregnancy. Not enough attention because of fear of spoiling. Increasing household tension as parents return home from work.
- Comment: Every parent of fraternal twins knows that despite giving both children love and affection equally, there are individual differences in the amount and quality of crying. Scientific studies have never demonstrated that family tension or anxiety causes babies to cry.
- Uncategorized Crying – DEVELOPMENTAL /PHYSIOLOGICAL STAGE (Factors mostly within the child: Heightened arousal of nervous system, immaturity of neurological inhibitory system. Immature or hypersensitive central nervous system, immature digestive system. High serotonin & low melatonin levels, overactive colonic muscles. Temperament: part of personality or a precursor to personality. Low self-soothing ability. An effective biological survival mechanism: “Pick me up (it’s safer in your arms than on the ground), rock me (that’s how I know I’m safe in your arms) and feed me.” Baby’s own inner biological drives or impulses cause him to kick, swing his arms and exercise his lungs because he is full of energy.
- Comment: All studies have shown that there occurs some uncategorized crying in all babies. The crying is minimal during the first weeks of life and peaks around the second month. There is more uncategorized crying in the evening hours, when the crying is at its peak during the second or third month of life. Most dramatically, the uncategorized crying tapers off and ends around the third or fourth month of life. This pattern is found in all studies, even in societies where infant care practices vary greatly from our own. There are no discontinuities in measurements of uncategorized crying: that is, there is a continuum whereby some babies have a little, some more and some a great deal. Those babies who have a great amount of uncategorized crying in all cultures, the peculiar time course, the evening time of occurrence, and the great differences between individual babies suggest that parenting practices (such as method of feeding) are not as important as developmental biological in the causation of crying.
HISTORICAL “EXPLANATIONS” WHICH ARE NO LONGER BELIEVED: MYTHS
Medieval: Possessed by the devil; “changelings” were both deformed children and children who cried too much because they were under the power of the Devil. Puritans: Sin should be eradicated immediately after birth and crying was an expression of anger, which required the discipline of the rod.
Freudians: Crying contributes to ego development.
Behaviorists: Prompt responsiveness reinforces crying.
Modern: Parents fail to meet the emotional needs of their baby (Psychology replaces Spiritually).
More Myths: Mother’s nervousness; babies personalities merely reflect their mothers’ feelings. Perfect mothers do not have crying babies. Your breasts are too small to make enough milk. Switching from breast milk to formula. Boys cry more because they are tenser. First-born babies cry more because their mothers are less experienced. Iron in formula.