Children's Health Tips

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Infant Crying

Infants communicate by crying. They are new to the world, and every sensation, every feeling is something new. New parents often have a hard time determining what an infant needs when he cries. There are some basic needs that the new parent can check when an infant is crying, to be sure that they are met. Any one of them, or a combination, can be the reason the infant is crying.

First, check to see if the baby’s diaper is wet or soiled. That can make an infant very uncomfortable. If the baby needs a change, then change his diaper. Often, that will solve the problem. Infants often get very upset and cry hard during a diaper change. That is usually because being uncovered can be uncomfortable for him. Do the change as quickly and efficiently as possible. Then, cover the baby back up with a blanket or the baby’s clothing.

Infants like to be warm. Being too cold or hot could be a reason an infant is crying. Often, the most soothing thing to an infant is being held close to a parent. It is not possible to hold an infant too much; infants cannot be “spoiled” by lots of love and attention. Check to see if he is too hot. If the baby’s skin is very red, or if he is sweating, he may need to have his clothing or blanket adjusted to cool him off. Temperature is an important thing to check to make the baby comfortable.

Is the infant hungry? Perhaps he needs to nurse or have a bottle. Offer a feeding. Small infants need to eat often, as they are growing rapidly. Eating is also soothing and comforting. An infant will never overeat; so do not worry about overfeeding. He will stop crying when his hunger is satisfied.

Once infants eat, gas develops. An infant’s digestive system is very immature – eating is a new experience! The infant’s crying could mean she needs to be burped. Place the infant against a shoulder so that her stomach is up against the adult’s shoulder. Pat firmly on her back to see if she needs to burp.

Sometimes, walking the baby in this position can help soothe her. Remember, she was used to movement in the womb. Another way to help relieve gas is to sit the baby with the palm of the hand against her stomach, and the infant leaning up against that hand. Pat firmly on the back repeatedly to see if that helps the baby to expel air.

Infants like to be swaddled in a small blanket. Swaddling means that the blanket is wrapped around the baby’s body fairly tightly so that the arms are held close to the body. Remember that the baby was all curled up inside the womb not so long ago, so the feeling of being held together is comforting. The feeling of flailing could be the reason for the infant’s crying. There are easy ways to fold a blanket and wrap it around a baby so that the baby is comfortably swaddled. Always make sure that the head and neck are not wrapped in the blanket!

If you have checked the baby’s temperature, and checked whether baby is hungry or needs a burp, and the baby is swaddled, if he is still crying, you can try making a rhythmic “Shhhh” sound near the baby’s ear. That sounds like the womb, and can help the baby to settle down as well. The overwhelming sounds in the room could be the cause of the infant’s crying.

All of these techniques can be helpful for soothing a crying infant. Always, if you suspect that the baby is in pain or sick, or if he won’t stop crying after trying all of these things, check with the baby’s pediatrician.

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