Quieting Crying Babies

My firstborn was a real crier.  I think he cried until about nine months old, almost all the time.  When I say that, I don’t mean that he was never quiet, but rather that his default position was one of crying rather than quiet.  Like if I put him on the floor to play, he’d play crying.  He ate crying.  He took a bath crying.  He always seemed upset about something, as if everything were strange.  Then one weekend it was as if everything suddenly made sense.  His crying switch flipped off, and he began interfacing with the world (and us) in a whole new way… smiling!

Needless to say, as a new mom I was frantic for soothing techniques.  Here’s a list I compiled on an index card to put on my frig, in case I was desperate.

Check:

  • Food
  • Diaper
  • Sickness/hurt
  • too Hot/Cold

Try:

  • New position, new toy
  • Nap
  • Lap
  • Burp/pat
  • swaddle
  • pacifier
  • dancing to music
  • bouncy seat
  • rocking chair
  • Baby Einstein
  • sling
  • swing

This list was mainly for the early months.  As he got older, some things weren’t necessary but I tried them anyway!  I remember STILL swaddling him up in a zipper sleep bag when he was eight months old to see if it would help him sleep (it did).  Then I wrapped him up in a blanket like a cocoon when he grew out of it at twelve months.  I always tried everything—gas drops, rice cereal in the bottle, swinging in my arms, spinning around, whatever!  I laugh now when I think about it.  (But of course then it wasn’t funny at all.  I was pulling my hair out!).

I think he had reflux, but maybe I was just feeding him too much.  Nursing didn’t work out and I switched him to a bottle which helped a little, but not enough.

I remember that a lot of the times I just buckled him in his carseat, tucked in tight with a blanket and a pacifier, and let him moan wherever I was.   If I was in the shower, I put his seat there on the floor.  If I was cooking, I moved him into the kitchen.  If I needed some air, I walked with him around the house or took him to the apartment playground.  Even though I couldn’t get him to stop for long, I felt like as long as he was with me, seeing me, maybe he wouldn’t grow up to be a nervous wreck.

And he didn’t!  He’s a totally warm and bonded five year old now.  He never liked being a baby but it turned out all right.  And it will for you too.   An experienced mom-friend of mine tried to get him to stop crying and it didn’t work very well, so then she advised me, “Honey, this is really difficult.  But if I were you, I would just go about my day, doing my thing and pretending he wasn’t crying.”  Wise as she was, that was the tactic I eventually chose.  The sling worked best, or if it got really bad, I’d lay him down for a nap (hoping his nice warm bed would make him feel safe).  But most of the time when I couldn’t sling him (he got large quickly, 20lbs by four months), I just kept him around and talked to him as if he were fine.  I don’t know if he heard me, but I did it anyway, just pretending that for him, crying was like being quiet.

And what do you know?  He had a fabulous toddler year, happy as a lark, and is now the most diligent of all my children.  So what goes around comes around.  Hang in there!

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