When you are a first-time parent, you are thrown into a whole new world!
No one can really prepare you for the new experiences that you are about to encounter.
Friends and family will tell you stories and give you advice.
But nothing can really prepare you for this journey.
You, somehow, just have to “wing it,” so to speak.
One challenge that I really had a hard time with was how to calm a crying baby!
I mean, I really struggled.
My son, Ryan, was my first born and he cried!
It would get so bad, that I truly felt as though I couldn’t take it anymore.
I have learned a lot since then.
My daughter, Belle, put the frosting on the cake for me!
So, since I know that a crying baby is one of the hardest things to deal with as a new parent…
I wanted to pass along some of the things that I learned.
Things that I wish, at the time, I had known.
1. Don’t Panic!
Play it cool.
Not to add any extra pressure, but your baby has superpower intuition!
If you are freaking out, your baby can sense that, and the crying may get worse.
The one thing that I did often when my son cried was panic!
You see, I was too tired from lack of sleep to handle such astounding emotion!
And, like every other parent out there, I wanted my son to be happy and to not have any reason at all to cry.
But here’s the thing.
Sometimes crying can actually be good for your baby.
It helps to strengthen their lungs and it starts the communication process.
Without crying, how else could your baby tell you what he needs?
Playin’ it cool…
You’re a new parent.
You’re already an awesome parent!
And you’ve got this!
Take some deep breaths and know that your baby is simply trying to tell you something.
Do whatever it takes to be cool like the Fonz!
(You know, from the old time show Happy Days?)
(Ok…maybe I’m showing my age here!)
In your mind, throw on a leather jacket, put on some sunglasses and hop on that motorcycle!
That’s how cool and calm you’re gonna play the game.
Not in the mood for one more baby dilemma?
Try to brush all of that aside and put on the Cool Parent badge!
It’s gonna be a cinch!
Now that you’re cool and not running around the house as though there’s a fire on the stove…
Is baby hungry?
Need a diaper change?
Have a fever?
Is baby too hot in the outfit that you have on him?
Is baby too cold?
How about pain?
Sometimes babies can have growing pains.
Remember when you were a teenager, and you’d get leg cramps in the middle of the night?
Maybe baby has a muscle cramp!
Are the lights too bright?
Is there too much noise or hustle and bustle going on in the home?
How about Aunt Sadie’s voice?
Is it too high pitched and maybe bothering baby?
Maybe you’ve been holding baby for a long time in the same position.
Could he be getting sore?
Have you been busy doing other things?
Maybe baby just misses you!
This is Not a Pop Quiz!
I don’t expect you to have answers to all of these questions!
I mean, how could you?
You are not a mind reader!
You are simply an awesome parent!
But I do want you to get into the habit of thinking about these things.
If you were – God forbid – disabled and couldn’t talk and relied on someone to care for you, what are some things that you would think/feel/need?
Perhaps the room is too cold.
How else could you convey that except to cry?
When you open your mind to all of the possible things that baby may be telling you, you can act a little more efficiently.
You can also be a little more empathetic with your baby instead of getting frustrated and upset.
Don’t be afraid to take a minute and think.
You might be surprised at how well it can help you to connect with your little one!
Study the situation.
Take a good look at your baby and the situation.
Is the sun shining in the window and hurting baby’s eyes?
There’s that dog-gone remote!
You may have left it in the crib by accident last night when you were so tired, and baby rolled over on it!
Or maybe the little music toy has been playing the same song for the past hour and baby’s tired of it!
Are baby’s legs curled up?
Maybe he has a tummy ache.
Is there a toy just barely within reach and baby wants it?
There are so many possibilities to the reasons why your baby may be crying.
Sometimes they are obvious.
Sometimes you have to be a detective.
Either way, the more that you study the situation, the better that you become at solving the problem.
For a little more help, you can check out this guide and ask yourself some further questions.
Attend to your baby.
I know that there is controversy over letting a child “cry it out” or actually picking up your baby.
Note: you don’t always have to pick up and hold your child.
Sometimes, if your baby is lying in the crib, per se, you can simply give eye contact and talk in a gentle voice.
That is a form of attending.
Or maybe you wave a little toy in front of him and sing a song.
That’s another form of attention.
Most certainly hold your child, if you want to!
But don’t feel as though you have to actually pick up and hold your baby every single time.
Attention from you is simply the most important.
Fulfill your baby’s needs.
Give things a try!
Perhaps, in your detective work, you thought that baby was hungry.
However, when you give baby a bottle, he pushes it away.
What else might baby want or need instead?
A clean diaper?
A back rub?
How about some special time with you?
Do your best to try to satisfy your child.
Remember, you’re not a mind reader.
No one is.
(Well, unless you are a psychic, then, well, ok!)
All you can do is your very best and that’s that.
4. Go with Your Gut!
We are constantly dumped on by society’s standards:
Don’t do that.
Do this until baby is this old.
Don’t do that until baby is that old.
Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Now, don’t get me wrong.
There is good research out there on some areas of parenting/child/baby.
But we need to step back a bit.
We can’t forget about the internal knowledge that we have within ourselves.
We need to go back to times when parents parented based on their gut instincts.
You are your child’s parent.
You know what is best for your child.
Follow your gut!
If something tells you that something is really wrong with baby, but the pediatrician blows you off?
Get another professional opinion!
Mother-in-Law spouts about how it is best to bottle feed instead of breastfeed?
You feel it is best to breastfeed?
Then go with your gut!
Not your mother-in-law!
The day that your child was born, you were given the gift of parental intuition.
Don’t let other people’s yammering hinder what you do for your child.
Your child comes first.
Your child is most important.
Tell everyone else to F-off (in your own mind, of course!).
Deep down, you know what is best and right for your little one.
5. Cry It Out
If you have tried everything and all else fails, put baby down.
And let baby cry it out.
As I mentioned earlier, all my son did was cry.
Sometimes, I just couldn’t figure out what he wanted or needed.
I finally put him down on a safe space and just sat there while he cried it out.
Sometimes, I even sat there and cried myself.
The thing is is that you may not know what your child needs all of the time.
Even though you have superpower parent strength and intuition, you still may just not know.
It is alright to say to your baby that you just don’t know what he needs and just let baby cry.
I can guarantee you that your baby will stop crying eventually.
6. Take Care of You
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to take a break.
Don’t be afraid to put baby down and do something for you.
Always, be safe with baby, of course!
Keep baby close by while you read a book or watch a movie.
If baby’s crying starts to cause you too much anxiety, put baby in a safe space and walk away.
It is okay to just walk away for a bit as long as baby is safe.
Parents leave their babies alone at night in cribs.
Why can’t you walk away for just a short while in order to care for yourself?
It is okay.
If you do not take care of yourself then how will you care for your baby?
Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid.
Call a trusted neighbor or a friend.
I asked for help. Big time!
When I had my daughter, I admitted that I could not care for her the way that I should’ve been able to.
I got support from a local program who set my baby up with temporary foster parents.
I simply needed them to take her for a couple of long weekends so that I could get the sleep that I so desperately needed.
You see, I had absolutely no family or friend support.
When she was born, it was just my 3-year-old son and me.
I hated handing her over to people I did not know.
I hated that I felt so low as a mother – that I couldn’t care for my newborn.
Looking back, though, it was the best decision.
A humble decision.
It was better to do that then to snap and a tragic accident happen.
Mothers who suffer in silence…
I truly believe that mothers who suffer from postpartum depression and take their babies lives in the process really just needed help.
They were overtired.
They were exhausted from trying to keep up with daily demands and societal demands.
Mothers who just needed support in the way that mothers don’t get in our country and should receive.
Our culture is harsh, mean and rough.
We expect too much from one person.
We expect a mother to be able to juggle multiple demands and keep up with our never-resting lifestyles.
I feel that parents should be supported, encouraged and cared about.
Not left isolated and to fend for themselves.
Our society is selfish.
Truly, we are.
We are always busy running here and there about our own lives.
We don’t think enough to pick up the phone and call the new mother down the street.
See if she needs anything.
We don’t stop to talk when she is out walking her baby.
See how she is doing.
If we just took the time – the extra 10-15 minutes out of our day to help someone…
Wouldn’t that be beautiful?
Crying Baby Won’t Cry Forever!
Lastly, if you don’t take away anything from any of this, I want you to remember one thing.
A crying baby won’t cry forever.
When you’re in the midst of those moments when it seems as though baby will never stop crying…
And even you are crying, too…
I want you to remember that – eventually – baby will fall asleep.
Eventually, baby will settle down to the point to where you can soothe him.
There will be an end to this crying period.
And there will be an end to the next one as well.
Remember not to panic!
Go with your gut!
Don’t be afraid to simply say, “I just don’t know” and put baby down in a safe space and take a break.
Finally, most importantly…
Take care of you!
You are so important to your baby!
You need to be able to be there for him or her.
So do something special for yourself.
You are golden, my friend!
Blessings to you.
Mama Morgan is a single parent by day and a writer by night! She is raising two, young children with special needs during a global pandemic. She aims to give other parents confidence, hope, and a practical, down-to-earth reading adventure through her own experiences. While Morgan is heavily focused on caring for her little ones, she is also dedicated to helping others and making the world a better place. Mama’s Grilled Cheese is just her delicacy!