Your baby has been fed. The diaper has been changed. You’ve rocked and soothed baby the way s/he always likes. But this time nothing is working. Baby is crying inconsolably. Yes, there are times when babies cry even though they’re not experiencing pain, but assuming you’ve done everything you can to keep baby calm, times like this could very well mean gas and re-flux is causing tummy pain. If that’s the case, try these methods to restore calm:
Removal of Stimuli
Well-meaning friends and family may exclaim, “She doesn’t seem tired!” when you know that baby is overstimulated. It’s easy to overlook the daily barrage of lights and sounds we’re all accustomed to, but bright lights, new faces and loud noises can make baby act “excited” when s/he’s actually very tired. Trust your gut on this one and take baby to a calm, quiet space.
Once baby is away from the action, the rhythmic monotonous whooshing sound of white noise reminds baby of what it sounded like in the womb and helps to drown out other startling sounds. A white noise app on your smartphone, the sound of a fan or a humidifier or simply making the “shhhh” sound next to baby’s ear will create white noise.
Babies love to be held and a baby carrier or sling keeps baby close while leaving your hands free. We promise you’re not spoiling your babies or creating bad habits by allowing them to be worn when they are in need of comfort.
Babies like to be tightly swaddled because it reminds them of being snug inside the womb. If you want to learn to swaddle like a pro, watch this step-by-step demonstration.
Skin to Skin Contact
In the NICU this technique is called “Kangaroo Care” and is employed not only to calm babies, but to help them grow and develop. Get your baby down to her diaper, snuggle in close and get as much “skin to skin” contact as possible. It calms, reassures, and is great for bonding.
Give Baby a Bath
The soothing warm water and change of scenery helps both adults and babies to relax. First, test the temperature of the water. You can also get in the tub and have baby lay chest to chest with you if you like. Gently and safely hold baby and relax.
Try the “Colic Hold”
The “colic hold” has been known to soothe many fussy babies. Lay baby face down on your forearm and gently rock him back and forth. Pressure on baby’s tummy is soothing and may help relieve gas. You can also try a variation of this using Dr. Robert Hamilton’s “The Hold ” where baby’s arms are secured and slight movement of the bottom is added.
Lay your little one on her back on a changing table or other flat surface and gently massage the top and sides of her head, the face and jaw muscles, then the arms, tummy and legs.
Mylicon or Gripe Water?
Simethicone-based drops such as Mylicon are widely recommended but have been shown to have the same effect as a placebo in medical studies. Gripe water has also not been proven to be effective. Of course in desperation parents will try these over the counter remedies and there is no harm in trying, but there’s no data to show that gas drops or gripe water help baby’s tummy.
Now here’s the trick – babies may grow out of a soothing technique that used to work and sometimes babies cry because it’s…just what babies do! Swaddling may have been your go-to move up to 8 weeks but all of a sudden may not help anymore. That is normal and perfectly fine.
This list is just a reference. If you feel like you might be reaching a breaking point while baby is crying, it is OK to place baby in a safe place like the crib and walk away for a few moments. And if you feel that baby’s crying may be happening because s/he’s sick or in pain, always contact your child’s physician.
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