Babies don’t just cry
On bringing your little one home, days can melt into night and tiredness may feel all consuming. In the midst of the sleep-eat-feed conveyor belt it’s important to keep check and really keep your intuition at the forefront of everything that you do. Sometimes babies will cry, yes, but this is more a ‘where am I and why am I awake?!’ cry. It’s a cry that says, “Whoa this is a big stimulating world and I’m not too sure about all of this just yet!”
At this cry your little one needs reassurance that everything is ok and that you are there to help them make sense of it all. This can be done by holding and cuddling your little one, talking to your little one, walking around and gently distracting your little one and doing ‘shush pat’ to name a few. Mainly at this point all your little one needs to be shown is that it’s ok, that they are ok and that you are there to help them. Baby needs to feel safe, loved and reassured.
But then there are other cries. You will come to know them quite quickly but it’s always helpful to be aware of what a cry can mean and then join the dots to a problem.
There are many reasons why a baby cries and it’s important to find the root of the problem and not to get caught up into thinking it always has to be hunger, or tiredness, or overstimulation. Without properly reading the situation and reading your baby, it’s easy to misdiagnose a crying baby and mistake an overtired baby for a hungry baby, a hungry baby for an overstimulated baby.
Babies cannot be awake for long periods of time without becoming tired again. Newborns often need to go back to sleep after being awake for about 45mins-1hour. I suggest begging your little nap time routine at the 45 mins mark, helping your baby settle to sleep before he gets overtired. An overtired baby is often confused for a ‘colicky baby’. It is crucial to really tune in and make sure you put your little one down for naps as soon as they show signs of tiredness. If you miss this window, you could have a very upset baby.
Have you ever been so tired all you want to do is cry? I always imagine that is the way a baby must feel when they have reached the point of no return, when they become so tired all they can do is cry.
This world of ours is an exciting place: big, loud, busy. To us as adults, usually everyday sounds and activities are just that – usual. We are used to the world we live in. Like all of us, when change occurs, it takes a little time to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings. Babies are just the same and will need time to make sense of their surroundings.
It’s important to understand what your baby may be feeling in a setting. If you are at a family gathering, with lots of excitement and joyous chatter and baby is being passed around like pass-the-parcel and begins crying at the seventh set of new hands and turns their head away, you can see how your little one may be feeling and how they may understandably feel overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Put yourself in your little one’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. We want to help our children experience everything and adapt quickly to our world and our everyday lives but small steps and ‘easy does it’ is better than expecting a baby to come into the world accepting and embracing it without feeling a little overwhelmed by it all.
You have time, that’s one thing you do have, so take your time and if you see baby feeling it’s all becoming a little too much, perhaps a change of scene is your best bet. Step into a quiet room, turn it down a notch.
You know that feeling after a party, a get together or a day out, when you get back home – that moment when you feel, ‘ah… that’s nice’. I think that’s how it must feel for a baby too. There is no need to stress baby: If you feel it’s all becoming a little bit too much, respect that and turn it down a notch.
Respecting your little one’s sleep.
Many books and sleep experts will advise putting your little one down to sleep in the middle of the lounge in daylight so that they get used to your everyday noise and they don’t confuse night and day. Both of these are true in essence but I don’t agree. How would you like to have a nap on the sofa while everyone bustles around you making a noise in the streaming daylight? I know I wouldn’t.
Babies will get used to your everyday noise regardless; there’s no way of stopping this. By the time baby is born they will have already been hearing your everyday noise from within the womb, so there’s no need to force baby into hearing this noise and expecting them to sleep through it.
Within the first few weeks, baby’s night and day is likely to be mixed up. In the womb baby will most likely have been lulled to sleep by your moving and walking around, then at night-time when you were stretched out, baby had more space and peace to move around in.
You can gently begin to help teach baby the difference between night and day. The room does not need to be dark for baby to nap but it shouldn’t be broad daylight either. The light stimulates little one’s eyes and tells them it’s time to be up and awake. It can be difficult for a baby to nap well if their body and hormones are saying ‘hey, wake up!’ By keeping the room cosy, you help baby prepare for sleep and get the most out of a nap time.
Sleep is incredibly precious for a baby – you really do want to treat it like gold dust.
In the first few weeks of a baby’s life they are likely to be able to sleep anywhere and everywhere, but as baby grows a few weeks older, parents often find baby doesn’t nap well, wakes from a nap shortly after going down, doesn’t seem to nap peacefully or finds it hard to nap at all. Understandably so. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
It is so important to respect your little one’s sleep needs. They are, after all, little people. They are not little beings who should just adapt and do what we want them to do. We can guide them and help create cues for them but they are also their own people. They have their own personalities, their own preference, likes, dislikes and you won’t need to wait too long for them to be shown to you. We cannot just expect babies to be able to ‘fit in’ with our lives. If your best friend came to visit you from abroad, would you just expect her to ‘fit in’ or would you design a day that flowed and accommodated you both?
Follow your intuition.
We want to think babies are born perfect, health wise and otherwise, but sometimes this is not the case. Sometimes babies have issues that need to be addressed, such as tummy pain, reflux, silent reflux tongue tie or allergies. When faced with these you may have a very upset little baby on your hands and until you find out the cause, you will continue to have an upset baby. Many times these babies can be looked at and diagnosed (or misdiagnosed) as having colic. I urge you to keep digging until you find out what’s going on with your little one.
In my experience colic is used as a blanket term. There is no explanation for colic except long bouts of crying which occur regularly. Babies don’t just cry for no reason, as we have discussed. Keep your Sherlock hat of intuition on, tune into your baby, follow your intuition and keep going until you feel comfortable and satisfied and not a minute sooner.