Is she hungry? Is she wet? Is she in pain? Is she hot? Is she cold? Is she teething? Is she deliberately trying to drive me insane through sleep-deprivation? Why won’t my baby stop crying? Until someone comes up with some sort of cry-translator, (science; can you get on that, please?) the best way to decode cries is by process of elimination…
1. Does she need a clean diaper? Freaking again?!
2. Is she hungry? Babies have tiny tummies, so they require constant feedings. Even if you think she ate enough earlier that she shouldn’t be hungry again so soon, offer it to her anyway.
3. Is she uncomfortable? Make sure she’s not too hot or too cold, for sure, but there are other things that can make a baby uncomfortable. Maybe the tag on her outfit is itchy or scratchy. Maybe she has a hair wrapped around her toe. (Really! It can cut off the circulation!)
4. Does she need to burp? Babies swallow air when they feed, whether by breast or bottle, and if the air isn’t released, she could be in discomfort.
5. Is it gas? Tummy troubles associated with gas can lead to lots of crying. Even if your baby has never before been fussy after eating, an occasional bout of gas can make her miserable.
6. Is she teething? Teething can be a painful experience that some babies suffer more than others, but all are likely to be fussy about these new teeth at some point. Try rubbing her gums with your finger. If this stops her crying, and/or you feel that tell-tale little protrusion, you may have discovered the culprit!
7. Is she overtired or overstimulated? You’d think that a tired baby would just GO TO SLEEP, but alas, it doesn’t work that way. Instead of nodding off, over-tired babies may fuss and cry, and just be generally irritable as all hell until they wind down. If the crying jag happens at a time other than when she’d normally be sleeping, she may be overstimulated. Sometimes, there’s just simply too much going on around her, and crying is her way of saying, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.”
8. Does she need some attention or more stimulation? Sometimes babies just simply want to be held. And since they can’t exactly use their words just yet, the only way they have to communicate is to cry. You will not spoil a baby by holding her while she’s crying, but if you’re experiencing muscle fatigue in your arms from your little attention-seeker, try a front carrier or a sling or a backpack. It’s possible that she just wants to see more of the world than her ceiling!
9. Is she just not feeling well? If you’ve covered all the basics and she’s still crying, she could be coming down with something. Check her temperature and be on the lookout for other signs of illness.
10. Is she responding to your mood? Babies can be incredibly sensitive to their surroundings. They can sense when you’re stressed out or feeling blue. If you think your level of frustration might be feeding hers, it might be time to take a break. Put her back in her bed, turn on some soft soothing music, and go take a shower or a walk and chill out for a little bit before you interact with her again.
Note: If your baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week, then you might be living in Colic hell. Colic is one of those mysterious conditions that doctors (and neighbors) mention when all other conditions have been eliminated. It’s not life-threatening, nor is it an illness or a disease. If you think Colic might be a consideration, you’ll need to start a baby log to take with you to the pediatrician, to make sure you are thorough and accurate when you relay the answers to the questions she’ll ask.