My 3-week-old baby bursts out crying for no apparent reason. How can I soothe him?
One of the toughest sounds to hear as a new mom is your baby crying. But consider this: Crying is the only way your baby can communicate at this stage. After all, he can’t yell out, “Mom, my diaper’s dirty!” or “I need a nap!”
To soothe your crying baby, first look to see if there’s a problem: Is he hungry? Tired? Does he need his diaper changed? Does he seem too hot or cold? Over time, you’ll start to hear differences in his cries for help, and these will quickly clue you in to his needs. In the meantime, go down the checklist — if you hit on the right issue, the crying will likely subside.
If your baby has no pressing needs, he may be crying just to let off steam. Play around with the expert soothing techniques below and find the one that works best for your baby. Mommy to the rescue!
1. Encourage sucking. If your newborn can find his hands, he probably can’t get enough of sucking on his fingers — or yours! Sucking is a natural reflex that a 3-week-old baby is likely to use when he’s upset or needs to settle down. Once breastfeeding is established, many moms find that pacifiers are the key to contentment, soothing and distracting a fussy baby almost instantly.
2. Wrap and rock. Mimic the environment your newborn inhabited before he was born: Wrap him in a receiving blanket — he’s used to the confined space — to make him feel secure (just make sure the blanket is not too tight and that his hips can move freely). Sing lullabies or play mellow music — the womb was noisy with the sounds of your heartbeat and your voice. Or try gently rocking him in your arms or while sitting in a rocking chair. Your baby is used to the smooth, rhythmic motion from your natural body movements during pregnancy. You can also try placing your crying baby in a motorized infant swing to help calm him down.
3. Hold tight. Snuggling your baby close to you — holding him in your arms or in a soft carrier or sling — has been shown to reduce crying and help forge a strong mother-baby bond. Don’t worry about spoiling a newborn with too much holding or carrying. Young babies need lots of love and attention; when you give it freely, you’ll be rewarded by less crying and greater contentment.
Keep in mind that many babies tend to have crying jags in the afternoon or evening. Don’t take it personally! Your baby isn’t crying because you’re a bad mom. In fact, newborns generally cry anywhere from one to four hours a day as they transition to this new strange life in the big world. Try to stay calm yourself, getting help from family and friends when you need a break.
Lack of sleep and big changes in your old routine may hit you hard during this time in your parenting career, but hang in there! Try to think of this as a brief extension of your pregnancy. Rest when your baby sleeps, eat regularly, and enjoy every moment with your bundle of joy — babies grow up fast!