Ah, the joys of being a grandparent! Watching the precious little one crawl around exploring the world for the first time… Seeing them take their first few bites of solid food… The smiles and the irresistible baby giggles when you tickle them…
Here’s one you forgot about – The hours-long crying jags that make every adult within hearing distance want to pull out their hair one strand at a time.
Living with a baby isn’t just strolls through the park on a sunny day. We often forget the times when their cute and cuddly smiles disappear only to be replaced by screaming top-volume tantrums.
If you’ll be playing an active role in raising the grandkids, this is an issue you’ll need to deal with. Your grown children may be the type of parents who say, “Hand the baby to me if it starts crying.” But no matter how involved you are or aren’t, it’s good to have some calming and comforting skills for when the babym is fussy.
Why Are You Crying?
Babies don’t always cry because they’re unhappy about something. Crying is a means of communicating, so they could be telling you a whole range of different things. Here are some of the things a baby might be trying to tell you when it’s crying:
“I’m hungry.” Crying is one of the many signs that a baby’s little tummy is empty. When a baby is running on empty, they’re likely to be irritable and fussy.
“I’m sleepy.” Babies haven’t figured out yet that lying down and being quiet is more conducive to falling asleep than waving their arms and screaming. The baby might need an adult’s shoulder, some gentle rocking and a lullaby to get them there.
“Hold me.” The baby might be crying because it just wants a warm shoulder or a better view of things.
“Please change my diaper.” A baby will often cry when it has something special for you in its diaper.
“I’m hot” or “I’m cold.” Babies are extra sensitive to temperature. It may be trying to tell you it needs an adjustment.
“Ouch!” Because babies are so extra-sensitive, a slight irritation like a scratch or pulled hair can be extremely painful or uncomfortable.
“My tummy feels funny.” A baby might cry after a meal because their tummy doesn’t feel right or they need to burp.
“I feel bad.” When babies are catching a cold or running a fever, they’ll often cry to let you know.
“I’m overstimulated” or “I’m bored.” Too much sensory stimulation can drive a baby to tears. Conversely, if a baby needs entertainment, he or she might let you know by crying.
“I’m teething.” When babies are teething, you can expect a good deal of uncontrollable crying.
“I’m just being fussy!” It’s not at all common for babies to cry, sometimes for hours on end, just because they feel like it. Many babies go through a phase of inconsolable crying.
7 Ways to Calm and Comfort
It can take a bit of detective work to identify the baby’s reason for crying so you can take care of it, but in the meantime you can employ some of these calming and comforting techniques. They may stop the crying or at least give the baby something else to do while you change their diaper or get the bottle ready.
1. Soothing Sounds
Certain types of sounds soothe babies. These sounds are most often repetitive or drone sounds. For example, the gentle thumping of a washing machine running a load or the white noise drone of radio static can have a calming effect on a baby.
2. Music and Rhythm
Babies love rhythm and melody. This is why lullabies work so well to calm them. Sing the baby a song or play some soft music. Different babies like different types of music, so see what works best.
Movement usually stops a baby’s crying. Try rocking the baby while walking around the room. Put the baby in a stroller and go for a walk outside. Swing the baby in a baby chair if they’re old enough. Strap it in and go for a drive.
4. Swaddling and Snuggling
Babies feel comfortable when they’re swaddled and held tight. It’s like being back in the womb. Close physical contact has a reassuring effect. Swaddle the baby in a favorite blanket and hold them close to you.
5. Baby Massage
Babies often respond well to gentle message, especially tummy rubs. There are massage oils and creams made specifically for babies, and you can learn some good baby massages for this purpose.
6. Something to Suck on
Pacifiers work well because babies tend to feel relaxed they have something to suck on. It reminds them of the nipple or the bottle. Keep a favorite pacifier or teething toy on-hand to give the baby peace of mind.
7. Fresh Air
Sometimes a little fresh air works wonders for a crying baby. Open a window or step outside. Combine the fresh air with swaddling, rocking or a good lullaby.
Finally, keep yourself calm as well. It may be a while since you had to reckon with the crying of a squirming and squealing baby. Remember that there are many reasons babies cry and most of them aren’t serious at all. Make sure that once the little one is asleep, you have some quiet time to yourself to help you recover.