8 Must Knows to Surviving a Crying Baby


Yes, I know it wasn't that long ago that you were a responsible, self confident career woman - perhaps running corporations, fixing dinner for your guests and still looking pretty. Now this little scrap of humanity - just bigger than your hand - has you a sniveling incoherent wreck with barely enough time to find a box of tissues for your nose. Don't worry we can all identify with that scenario to a greater or lesser degree.  I remember my firstborn. I had previously been a healthcare professional - a midwife, labor ward sister at the Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew, London -  so of course I knew everything - not. My baby cried for four months. I'm happy to say my son is now a strapping handsome 34 year old who has survived my sometimes inept ministrations as a new mother.

Over the years I have learned a number of things:

1. A crying newborn goes straight to your innermost soul

 to a degree that no one can understand until they have been there. It makes you drop everything and go to the baby. It is meant to do just that so the next time you dash out of the bathroom in a state of undress to attend your baby, you are normal.

2. Crying is caused by one or combination of these: 

Hunger, too hot, too cold, digestive pain, uncomfortable clothing. A need to suck.

3. Hunger. 

Pick up your baby and look him in the face talking to him all the time. You will know if he is hungry as he will display the rooting reflex - making mouthing action and looking for the breast. Look on your chart to see when you last fed. Feed him if necessary. If you are sure he has been adequately fed then you need to check the other causes of crying.

4. Need to suck. 

Some babies need to suck and the answer is to give a pacifier. I know it is controversial but if you don't the child will suck on something else. My granddaughter pulled her sleeve down and stuffed it in her mouth at six months. Her mom wouldn't let her have a pacifier.

5. Too hot. 

If you have on only a tshirt and shorts and perspiration is dripping off your nose end there is a good chance he too is too hot. All he needs is a cotton vest and diaper. Lay him on a cotton sheet in his bassinet or day chair with a cotton sheet to cover. My third born was born in Hong Kong with hot and humid weather all year round. She got prickly heat which really made her bawl. An old hand gave me a tip to keep her cool- drape a wet sheet round the crib and set the fan to blow through the wet sheet.  A cotton vest essential to absorb the sweat. Happy to say it worked.

6. Too cold. 

My second born was born in December in England and warm though I thought she was she was awake every hour. When I brought her into my bed she slept for six hours. Your bedroom should be 70 F. Check his hands and feet. If they are cold he is uncomfortable.

7. Uncomfortable clothing. 

Check his skin for rashes. Has he an allergy to your washing powder. Look for tiny red spots. Use baby washing powder leave out the fabric conditioner. Use cotton where possible. Rash persists get it checked out with your doctor.

8. Digestive problems. 

There is such a thing as colic. Many people would disagree and say it is only the ineptitude of a new mom. I remember taking my firstborn for a walk in his new stroller. Proud to be a new mom and glad to have got everything done to leave the house. 10 minutes down the road the color drained from his otherwise sleeping face and he bawled the place down. I had fed him 20 minutes previously. This was becoming a frequent occurrence which drove me sniveling to the doctor who prescribed him a substance that would caused his intestines to relax. Apparently the peristaltic action in his gut was going into spasm. My baby was in pain. I wish I could say the medicine did some good but it didn't. Some of the stuff on offer contains alcohol which if you give enough it will anesthetize your baby. Let's face it if you drink enough of it, it will anesthetize you. Four months later the screaming stopped. His digestive tract presumably became mature enough to cope with his breast milk. I wonder though. In those days it was the perceived wisdom to feed 10 minutes each side. I wonder if I had fed him on one breast only would he have had the discomfort since the thick creamy milk would have laid longer in his stomach. At four months I gave baby rice mixed with breast milk. That helped. The bawling ceased.

Some babies have reflux problems. I have seen that in my granddaughter. After every feed she vomited and bawled. A low birth weight baby it was quite a worry was she getting enough. She needed a small amount and often. At the beginning she was fed every two hours. As she gained weight we relaxed and realized that the vomiting wasn't doing her any real harm. Not real vomiting just positing. As she got older it got better. Her daily attire included a bib to absorb the vomit. Head raised in her day chair helped.

She is 16 months old now and doesn't vomit at all. A happy healthy child.

Regular as clock work at six pm my baby niece started bawling and didn't stop for two hours. This was every night for four months. The theory is that there is a build up of gas that puts the child in pain in the evening - just when daddy comes home. It really is common.

So, your baby has been checked by your doctor and is pronounced fit and well, however he is crying and you have done all the above. What to do. Change his position. Put him over your shoulder and dance. When you have had enough pass him to your partner. Put him across your knee and rub his back gently. May release some gas. Bath him. The warm water may help. Some good advice on The Happiest Baby on the Block - swaddle him, hold him on his side head down and a slight jiggle alters his behavior and stops the crying. Worth a try. Sing to him. He might not like it but you will feel better. Don't leave him to cry alone. You cannot spoil a newborn. He is not just being awkward. If he is in pain and you can't do anything about it at least you are with him in his discomfort. Hang on in there.  Get help. It will get better - in three or four months.

Until next time. Granny Potts signing off.

About Granny Potts

She is a mother of three and grandmother of two from England, and lives there with her husband. A former midwife, nurse and teacher now retired. She successfully breastfed all her children who are now in turn successful mothers and citizens and for which she feels very blessed.