Crying is said to be the infant’s inherent language which he uses to communicate with his caregiver. It is his way of expressing his needs and how he wants to be tended. Past studies have shown that an average infant may spend 2 to 3 hours a day crying, and about one-third of infants exceed that amount of time.
Sometimes a baby cries to imply an emergent need; but most of the time a baby just merely wants attention. This is when the problem arises because babies vary in the kind of attention that they want. Since they are unable to verbalize, most caregivers have no easy way of knowing how to comfort them, leading to an inconsolable infant crying.
One new perspective about infant crying was shared by a California pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp. According to him, babies may have become adapted to the kind of environment inside the womb. An infant’s inconsolable crying during the first 3-4 months of life, may actually be the result of the baby missing the constant noise (e.g. blood flowing through the mother’s arteries) and stimulation (e.g. gentle stroking and patting of the mother) of the womb.
From this presumption, new techniques to calm the baby have been developed. These techniques are said to activate the baby’s calming reflex by mimicking his experiences in the uterus. More research needs to be done though, to make sure these techniques are safe and effective.
1. Shushing sound
The whooshing sound of blood flowing through the maternal arteries in the womb can be mimicked by playing a recorded cd of rhythmic sounds of vacuum cleaners, clothe dryers, hair dryers, or dishwasher.
2. Gentle swinging
To duplicate the motion of the baby in the womb, a gentle rhythmic swinging of the baby in an infant swing, rocking chair, or a car ride can make your baby feel contented.
Sucking reflex does not begin until about the 32nd week of pregnancy. Satisfy this reflex by letting the baby breastfeed, or bottle feed, or offer the baby a pacifier to suck on.
At the end of pregnancy, the baby has achieved a considerable size that makes tight-fit inside the womb. Mimic this feeling of warmth and protection by wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket.
5. Side or Stomach positioning
Until about 6 months, the baby has an inherent startle reflex, also known as the Moro reflex, wherein in response to the sound or movement, the baby quickly extends out his arms and legs, cries, then pulls the arms and legs back in. Laying the baby on her side or stomach shuts down the Moro reflex, avoids the baby from the sensation of falling, thus keeping him calm. However, it is worth mentioning here not to put the baby to sleep on his stomach, because this may increase the risk for sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
As mentioned earlier, a baby’s cry can just simply mean an emergent need that warrants immediate attention by his caregiver. Therefore, when the baby cries, you should first check if the baby’s basic needs are met. Make sure the following are checked before doing anything else to soothe your baby’s cry: a) your baby is not hungry, b) he had been burped after feeding, c) his diaper is not wet, d) his clothing is not too tight, e) he isn’t too hot or too cold, and f) your baby is free from any crawling or biting insects in his crib.
Being able to calm a crying baby feels like winning a lottery ticket worth a million bucks. No wonder any parent or caregiver will explore all the possible means to pacify his or her little one, no matter what and how long it takes.