Babies have only one mode of communication – crying. Crying is essential for babies’ survival. Research shows that crying is also a way to increase their lung capacity. But, for new parents, this can be quiet a task. When new mothers lose sleep day after day, they become tired and irritable and this is when the daddies must take charge. Several fathers of newborns pitch in to help with baby care nowadays, especially when babies cry at night. This article looks at ways by which a father can understand why his baby is crying inconsolably and suggests tips to calm him.
Let’s face it. Universally, babies cry. There is not one baby in the world that does not cry. It is important to realize that the first three months after the birth of the baby will be the most difficult. Babies continue to cry even after that. However, if we take a step back and analyse the reasons for a baby to cry, it will be easier to deal with the situation and soothe the baby.
Here are some top reasons why your baby could be crying:
1. Hey guys, I am hungry – Feed me: A baby in the womb gets its nutrition from its mother. However, once the baby is out, she does not realise when she is hungry. The only thing that a baby feels or senses is pain (in this case, due to an empty tummy). When hunger pangs arrive, the baby cries! With practice, you will be able to understand her crying pattern and will soon be able to realize that your baby is hungry. Typically a baby needs to be fed every 2-3 hours.
2. Hey, I am sleepy – Is someone going to rock me?: How would you feel if you were to stay up late to finish some work? Wouldn’t you be tired, sleepy and cranky? Why should it be any different for a baby? In the initial stages, the sleep pattern does not stabilize until 3 months from birth. Until this happens, babies will cry when they are sleepy.
3. Hello, my nappy is full – Somebody needs to clean-up: Your baby could be crying because her diaper may be full with the dampness spreading to her body, making her uncomfortable. She may have also soiled her diaper. Which means it’s time to get your hands dirty!!
4. Alright, I’m just tired of cycling in the air: Babies are like pint-sized adults in certain ways. They have mood swings too, just like you and me. A lot of visiting friends and relatives can tire your baby out and set her crying.
If you have ruled out these top 4 reasons and if your baby is still crying, here are some of the other possible reasons:
Your baby could be in pain: Babies, as we know, have only one mode of communication. It could be just a mild tummy ache, an ear ache or just an irritating piece of fabric they are wearing.
Your baby could be scared: As much as it is all very new for you parents, do not forget that for the baby it is a whole new world too. From being cocooned inside the mother for a whole 9 months, the baby is suddenly exposed to new sounds, bright lights, and a brand new environment.
After reading all of the probable causes you might just begin to wonder if there is any hope at all. Fear not! Here are some things you can do as a responsible father to calm your crying baby:
1. Recreating familiar sounds: Research has shown that if your baby is crying, you can make sounds like that of a washing machine running. This sound is similar to the sounds the baby hears in the womb. This gives the baby the illusion that she is still inside mummy’s tummy and relaxes her. This is particularly useful in the nights especially when the mother is resting.
2. Cradling and swaying: Cradle the baby in your hand and sway gently from side to side in rhythmic intervals
3. Singing a gentle song or lullaby: Singing or humming a lullaby can also soothe the crying baby.
4. Be silly: Make funny faces to take your baby’s attention off the crying. At some point, your baby will giggle. Note the expression that made her smile and repeat it during her crying episodes.
While bonding with the baby comes more naturally to mothers, there are ways by which a father can bond with his newborn too.
1. Talking to the baby: Research shows that parents who talk to their babies in simple, proper and complete sentences have a larger impact on the early development of the child’s communication skills. There is no such thing as baby talk.
2. Fathers can take their babies for a walk: With the invention of baby carriers and easy strollers, fathers can take their babies for a walk or multitask while using the baby carriers.
3. Play time: Dads must schedule special play time with their babies and sometimes also with other dads. This helps to share experiences and learn along the way.
In closing, here are a few points on what not to do when your baby is crying:
- Do not shake the baby with the intention of calming her down. This is very dangerous and can prove to be fatal.
- Try to be clam when your baby is crying. A tense father will only make the baby even more restless.
The author is a professional German translator, interpreter, foreign language instructor for schools and visiting faculty for colleges and corporates.