How to respond to your baby's cries
The best way to handle crying is to respond promptly to your infant whenever they cry during their first few months. You can’t spoil a young baby by giving them attention - and if you answer their calls for help, they will cry less overall.
When responding to your child’s cries, try to meet his or her most pressing need first. If they’re cold and hungry and their diaper is wet, warm them up, change their diaper and then feed them. If there’s a shrieking or panicked quality to the cry, consider the possibility that a piece of clothing or something else is making them uncomfortable. Perhaps a strand of hair is caught around a finger or toe.
If your baby is warm, dry and well-fed, but nothing is working to stop the crying, try the following consoling techniques to find the ones that work best for your baby:
- Rocking, either in a rocking chair or in your arms as you sway from side to side
- Gently stroking their head or patting their back or chest
- Swaddling (wrapping them snugly in a receiving blanket)
- Singing or talking
- Playing soft music
- Walking them in your arms, a stroller or a carriage
- Riding in the car (Be sure to properly secure them in a car safety seat)
- Rhythmic noise and vibration
- Burping them to relieve any trapped gas bubbles
- Warm baths (Most babies like this, but not all)
Sometimes, if all else fails, the best approach is simply to leave the baby alone. The more relaxed you remain, the easier it will be to console your child. Even very young babies are sensitive to tension around them and react to it by crying. Listening to a wailing newborn can be agonizing, but letting your frustration turn to anger or panic will only intensify your infant’s screams. If you start to feel that you can’t handle the situation, get help from another family member or a friend. Not only will this give you needed relief, but a new face sometimes can calm your baby when all your own tricks are spent.
No matter how impatient or angry you feel, do not shake the baby. Shaking an infant can cause blindness, brain damage, or even death. Remember, crying is a normal part of your baby’s day and one of the first ways they can communicate. You can enjoy your baby - even through their tears.
About the Author
As a pediatrician, Dr. Allison-Bryan specializes in the care of infants, children and adolescents. She not only focuses on children's health conditions, but also places strong emphasis on preventive health care and health maintenance. In addition to being a pediatrician at Gloucester Pediatrics, Dr. Allison-Bryan is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University.