Calming A Crying Baby: Why Babies Cry At Night
New parents often wish they had a magic baby cry decoderespecially to figure out why babies cry at night. Learn about the different causes of crying, and get tips on how to stop a crying baby today.
Newborns cry a lotbut they sleep even more. Most newborns sleep about eight to nine hours during the day and another eight hours at night, though not all at once. Your baby probably wont sleep through the night until shes at least three months old. Some babies dont sleep through the night until six months or older. So it stands to reason that lots of crying starts up when you thought she was sleeping peacefullyor when you’re trying to sleep.
Crying is your babys primary way of sending you a message. Babies cry at night to signal that they are in need of your help. Whats she trying to tell you when she wakes up wailing or cries in her sleep? Here are the main reasons why babies cry at night, and what to try when you’re wondering how to stop a crying baby.
What Is The Cry It Out/crying Down/ferber Method
Devised by a physician called Dr Richard Ferber, this method recommends letting your baby cry for a short while before you offer him comfort. Dr Ferber has also penned a book on this topic and it can be ideally applied to babies six months and older. The method suggested is as follows:
- Gently place your baby in his crib or cot when he is extremely drowsy but not fast asleep.
- Give your baby a goodnight kiss and step out of the room.
- If your baby cries soon after, wait for a few moments before going inside.
- Comfort your baby in a low voice and let the light be on low or switched off. Do not pick him up or feed him.
- Leave the room even if your baby is still crying.
- You have to repeat these steps until your baby goes off to sleep. It is likely that this will take quite a few attempts before you fully succeed.
- Be sure to extend the time between each visit, giving your child greater time to calm down and attempt to sleep.
- If the baby wakes up again at night, repeat the same process.
According to Dr Ferber, babies should be able to put themselves to sleep in about a weeks time. It is believed that this technique works because a lot of older babies smartly make the most of the situation when they realize that crying will result in them being held or fed. So, this technique conveys the message that their crying game no longer has any takers. On realizing this, they are likely to stop crying without reason.
What Is Colic In Babies
If your baby frequently goes through periods of screaming and cryingand there’s nothing you can do to comfort hershe may be suffering from colic. Learn more about the causes and symptoms of this common condition.
We expect babies to cry, but about 15 to 25 percent of newborns shed many more tears than others. When otherwise healthy babies cry excessively and inconsolably for no apparent reason, pediatricians might suspect colic. “It’s not really a diagnosis it’s a behavioral observation,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. Read on to learn more about the causes and symptoms of colic, with tips on stopping the crying spells.
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Newborn Crying: What To Expect
Crying is a newborns main way of telling you what they need. Its a sound that can spur you into action, even when youre asleep. If youre a breastfeeding mother, it can trigger your let-down reflex.
Crying peaks at about 6-8 weeks. This period of intense newborn crying is hard, but it will pass.
Babies cry and fuss on average for almost three hours a day. Some cry for a lot longer than this. Most of this crying and fussing seems to happen in the late afternoon and evening, although every day will probably be a bit different.
As babies get older, they spend less time crying. The crying is also more likely to be spread throughout the day. And its easier to understand what babies need when they cry.
Crying is often a sign that your baby is tired or overstimulated. But newborns also have other tired signs. For example, newborns might pull at their ears or suck on their fingers when theyre tired.
Control The Crying With A Feed
Food soothes, whether from breast or bottle. Breast is best, there is no doubt, from both a nutritional standpoint and an emotional one theres nothing quite as soothing for a child as to be fed while being skin to skin with mother. But the one advantage of bottle feeding, which cannot be denied, is that it does give the other parent an opportunity to share. It means you can agree to dividing up night-time feeds, so both of you get a chance to sleep. Of course, if you are breastfeeding you can discuss with your health visitor about expressing milk for just that purpose.
Some parents worry that attending to their every need and being so responsive to a small child will stop them developing the ability to manage for themselves. On the contrary, since carrying or wearing a baby is for while they are helpless and dependant on you it builds up what is important at the time their trust and confidence in you.
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When To Seek Help
Its important to go to your babys recommended checkups or wellness visits so the doctor can keep track of growth and development. These visits are more frequent when your baby is first born, when tracking weight gain is vital.
Your doctor will tell you if they suspect your baby isnt getting enough milk or if they arent gaining enough weight. More frequent feedings, fussiness, or breasts not feeling full dont necessarily mean your baby isnt getting enough milk.
Always call your pediatrician if your baby seems very sick, lethargic, or has trouble breathing.
How To Calm Your Crying Baby At Night
If your baby wakes up crying at night despite all his needs being met, it is likely that he has made it a habit. Here are some ways in which you can help your child calm down and sleep through the night:
- Put your baby in the crib or on the bed when hes drowsy but still awake. Be certain to place your child in the crib at this point even if his bedtime ritual has not been completed. The babys last waking memory has to be of the bed or crib, and not of you. This will encourage him to go back to sleep on his own when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
- If your baby refuses to stop crying at bedtime, keep visiting him at intervals of five to fifteen minutes. You can keep increasing the duration between visits. However, do not let the baby get too upset if he seems extremely fussy or afraid, hold him till he calms down. You can sit in the room for a few moments till he calms down, but try to leave before he falls asleep.
- Dont take your child out of the crib or bed once you have tucked him in for the night. Rocking your baby until he falls asleep or bringing him into your bed for a while will defeat the purpose of this exercise.
- Introduce your baby to a security object such as a soft toy or a blanket if your baby is six months or older. This will be of comfort to your baby when he wakes up at night and he will soon be happy cuddling this object instead of you at night.
Some other things that you can try to ensure a regular sleep schedule for your child are:
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They Are Hungry Or Thirsty
Heres a common reason for your babys cries hunger or thirst. Your baby has a really small tummy and needs to feed frequently. A newborn baby may need to be fed around 8 to 12 times in a day, that is, once every 2 to 3 hours, day and night.1 But by the time she 1 or 2 months old, she might nurse only 7 to 9 times a day.2 And at 3 months, she might sleep 6 to 8 hours continuously without needing a feed.3 So if your precious little one is older than 3 months, and you know you fed her well before she fell asleep, there might be other reasons like the ones below.
Set up everything for your babys night feeds before you go to bed. Also, dont indulge in activities like play when you feed your baby in the night. Keep the lights dim and your voice low so that both of you can settle back to sleep with minimum disturbance.
A Typical Evening With A Newborn
You feed your baby until she looks fast asleep. You carefully put her down in her bed. Either immediately or soon afterwards she wakes up and cries. You think she must be hungry maybe breastfeeding isnt working? You feed her again until you think she cant possibly fit in any more milk, and put her down. and so on, until the early hours of the morning.
Although you may worry that your baby cries at the breast because theres a problem with feeding, as long as the signs of milk intake are OK , and your baby is happier the rest of the time, its probably nothing to do with hunger, or a breastfeeding malfunction! Your baby is most likely to have woken up because they were put down.
The conditions that adults might prefer for sleep quiet, dark, being left alone are scary for babies, who fear being abandoned more than anything. For our ancestors, a baby who was left alone was a baby who probably wouldnt survive. Your baby has an alarm, carefully developed over thousands of years of human evolution, that is programmed to go off if she senses that she has been left alone.
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How To Soothe The Baby
When a baby briefly cries out in their sleep, they often settle on their own. Picking them up may wake them up, disrupting their sleep.
If the crying continues, try talking softly to the baby or rubbing their back or stomach. This can help shift them into a different stage of sleep and help them stop crying.
Breastfed babies who nurse in their sleep may find comfort from nursing. Caregivers should decide whether or not the baby is likely to awaken from nursing and assess whether they are willing to risk waking the baby.
It can also be helpful to simply observe the babys sleep pattern. Some babies let out a soft cry as they fall deeply into sleep, or immediately before waking. Identifying the babys typical sleep pattern can help caregivers assess the cause of crying.
Some babies might cry in their sleep when they are sick or teething, but pain that causes crying will usually wake the baby. Caregivers can talk to a pediatrician about how to ease the babys pain.
Although we do not yet know when nightmares start, a caregiver who thinks that they hear their baby having a nightmare can soothe them by talking calmly to them or rubbing their back. Babies who are still breastfed may also find comfort from nursing.
If a baby wakes up after having had a nightmare, comfort them and follow a soothing sleep ritual to get them back to sleep. Older babies and toddlers may need reassurance that the nightmare was not real.
Is Your Baby Still Waking Up Every 2 Hours
But that was 6 months ago. Now your baby still hasnt slept through the night, you have no idea what youre doing wrong, and you cant even enjoy this new, exciting time of your life because all you want to do is sleep. When your baby is waking every 2 hours, a bone-tired exhaustion sets in.
Signs Of Colic In Babies
Dr. Lester says the colic symptom checklist includes the sudden onset of a high-pitched, screechy “pain cry” and inconsolability. Other signs include an enlarged stomach, passing more gas than usual, and extending/pulling up the legs.
What’s the difference between normal crying and colic? With normal crying, the wails are usually related to a need , and come in no particular pattern throughout the day and night. Fussy babies tend to calm down with cuddling, being held, or being rocked. Colicky babies, on the other hand, suffer from unprovoked crying spells that dont stop after soothing.
Colic is not the same kind of cry you’d get with ‘I’m hungry,’ or ‘I’m dirty,’ or ‘I’m tired,'” says Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, M.D., coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. “With a hunger cry, babies feel better when you feed them. With colic, you don’t know what your baby wants.
When Should Your Baby Be Able To Sleep Through The Night
Babies under the age of two months are likely to awaken at least two times every night to be fed. After two months and up to four months of age, this comes down to one feed per night. After four months, formula-fed babies can sleep through the night for about seven hours straight. Breastfed babies should be able to get through seven hours without waking up for feeds by at least five months of age. This holds true for all normal babies of this age group they should be able to fall asleep and stay that way without being held or rocked during the night.
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Why Is My Baby Thrashing Around While Breastfeeding
Basically, your baby sounds frustrated. Why? One possibility is that your milk is coming out like gangbusters, making it hard for her to keep up. “This torrential-letdown effect often happens in the first few weeks of nursing,” says Meier, “before your body gets into a rhythm of producing the right amount of milk.”
Am I The Reason My Baby Wont Stop Crying
Are you distracted, overwhelmed, and at breaking point? If youre stressed out and exhausted, youre going to have trouble relating to your baby in a soothing, nurturing way. So, its important to get the support you need.
Fortunately, there are great opportunities for overcoming the limitations a parent or child may bring to the attachment relationship. Parents who learn how to calm themselves, ask for support, and communicate with their infants can find the means for creating a successful attachment relationshipessentially teaching by their exampleeven with an upset or unresponsive infant.
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