If there's one thing I firmly believe in, it's moms helping out other moms. In this day and age, and especially online, we see a lot of name calling, finger-pointing, and parent-shaming, when really we should be offering help and encouraging each other to rise up and take care of this generation of children! Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from the perfect parent. I make mistakes- tons of them, and even after 10 years of motherhood I still have questions and struggles when it comes to parenting. I have, however, learned a few things along the way, and that's why I wanted to share this post so badly and offer tips to parents out there who are just stressed out and exhausted as I have at times felt. The first few months of parenthood can be the most overwhelming months of your entire life, and I'm here to let you know that it won't last forever!
See, here's the thing: I'm a ninja when it comes to crying babies. Heck, I should be after the screaming I had to endure from my last 2 perfect little princesses. Those girls loved to cry, and they were so gosh darn good at it. I swear, it seemed like that's all they did for the first few months of their lives- cry. I've tried every trick in the book, and I found out which methods worked best for each baby. Every baby is unique in their fussiness! Some hate the car seat, some don't like to sleep, others just want to be held constantly. If you're lucky, maybe, just maybe, you might get a perfect baby who never fusses or screams. I was blessed enough to have one of those- my first and only baby boy. Ayden was the sweetest, most chill baby I've ever known! I had my one easy baby and then it's been nothing but screamers ever since.
Please excuse the un-showered, deliriously sleep-deprived, no-makeup, middle of the night mama + baby nursing selfie!
My most recent baby, Harper, was no exception. She almost had us fooled because she was so sleepy and quiet that first week of her life (after being 2 weeks early). But then she woke up and she showed her true colors as a screamer. Some nights she just didn't want to sleep- she wanted to nurse every 20 minutes and be held and bounced the rest of the time. I was happy to oblige most of the time, since it had been so long since I'd held a tiny newborn, but the night wakings were getting out of hand. If I set her down, she screamed. If I tried putting her in the swing, she'd tolerate it for a few minutes...just long enough for me to drift off before I'd be awoken by her shrieking. She wouldn't take a pacifier at first, so all she wanted was to nurse again. My nipples felt like they were being ripped off and I cringed every time she latched on! She wouldn't take a bottle, so those were out of the question, and my husband couldn't even help me with the feedings. This picky girl only wanted the breast.
I thought things would get easier after the first few weeks, but instead, they got worse. She wasn't sleeping, I certainly wasn't sleeping, and she just didn't seem happy for a majority of the time. She fussed, cried, squirmed, and wouldn't sit still- ever. She also hiccupped and spit up a lot, and was finally diagnosed with acid reflux (my middle daughter, Lily, also had acid reflux as an infant). The prescribed medicine did help make feedings and burping easier, but she still didn't want to sleep or be happy, like ever. Here's where my ninja/crying baby skills were honed.
Tips for soothing a crying newborn
Baby wearing. Seriously, wear your baby! Try a Moby wrap for newborns, because it's amazing and was seriously a life-saver for me. It looks intimidating at first, but I assure you- just practice a few times and you'll get the hang of it. Harper loved being all wrapped up on me when she was super fussy. Babies love the skin-to-skin contact, the warmth from your body, the feel of your heart beating, and you'll love it because your hands are free. Plus, you can still kiss their sweet heads and faces while wearing them.
Pacifier. If your baby will tolerate it, try a pacifier. Both my girls rejected their binkies adamantly for the first 6 months, but finally caved and soon came to love their binks. Some people might think it's a bad habit to start, but I firmly believe in the power of the pacifier. If you're like me and were tired of being the living pacifier (AKA, nursing machine) give in to the pacifier! I had to buy nearly every single style, shape, and size out there, but we eventually found one she'd take, and now she uses her binky all the time to sooth herself (and thank GOD for it in the car. Car rides would be torture without it).
Swing. This swing saved our butts, and it was the only thing she would sleep in for the longest time. I know, I know. I was against her sleeping in the swing at first too, but then I realized that I needed to sleep more than I needed to feel good about her sleeping in her crib like a big girl, so the swing won. Harper loved the side-to-side motion, and this one plugs in, which means no replacing expensive batteries. I also suggest rocking, and we still do a lot of rocking, but the swing allows you to actually put the baby down.
Swaddle. Again, this thing saved our butts. I finally realized around 1 month that she just couldn't sleep without waking herself up if she wasn't swaddled. Babies have a startle reflex (also called moro reflex), and some babies don't grow out of it until around 6 months of age. Swaddling helps baby feel secure and kept her from flailing her arms around and waking herself up. Some babies need to be swaddled even longer- Harper still refused to sleep without hers until around 9 months old. That might sound like a long time, but trust me, I tried breaking her of it earlier, and it didn't work. She needed that extra security for some reason, so I kept wrapping her up and she was happy. We loved this one, by the way.
Sometimes you have to break out the big guns & swaddle in the swing. Adding a pacifier completes the soothing trifecta!
Bicycling legs. This sounds kind of weird, but it helps. I realized early off that Harper was really gassy, and she had a hard time passing gas on her own. She would cry out and whimper with gassy stomach pains and it would make me almost cry sometimes to see her in pain. When that happened, I'd lay her on a blanket on the floor and bicycle her legs for her. The movement of the legs and bringing the knees up to the stomach/chest helped work the gas right out.
Change of scenery. Babies get overwhelmed just like we do. Sometimes when you've tried everything and just can't get them to stop crying, a change of scenery helps. Pick up baby and take her into another room (maybe one she doesn't go in a lot- like an office, or even the laundry room). Point out things to her and sing to her. Better yet, go outside. Harper loves going outside to look at all of the trees around us. Even when she was really ticked off, if we took her outside she'd calm down and get super quiet and just watch the trees and listen to the wind or the birds chirping. Take a break and get some fresh air for the both of you.
Go for a drive/walk. If your baby doesn't mind the car seat or stroller, go for a drive or a walk. Some babies love the soothing motion of being in a car. Some (like Harper) hate it. But if I put her in the stroller and took her for a walk, she'd usually calm down and fall asleep. The jiggling of the wheels on the sidewalk usually put her right to sleep.
Take a break. This one is hard to do sometimes, especially if you're the only adult home with the baby. But babies can sense stress, and it can also affect your milk supply. If your baby is crying and you can't calm her down at all, you need a break. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, and neighbors. Moms can't do it all and we need help too. Even if you can only get away for 5 minutes, do it. Go outside, get some air, and clear your head. Or better yet, go take a bath or shower. I'm sure you need it and I do some of my best thinking while I'm in the shower. Hop in, scrub the baby vomit off your body, wash your greasy hair, and try to think happy thoughts. When you're done, you'll be more calm and collected and should be able to face your crying baby again. Can't get away? At least go in another room, count to 10, and take some deep breaths. Try calling your mom or a friend and let them know you need some help with a crying baby!
Colief. Unfortunately, sometimes even all of these tips don't work, and your baby may be the 1 in 5 infants who are born with colic and cry excessively. If that's the case, try Colief- an infant digestive aid that may help infants suffering from excessive colic-associated crying caused by temporary lactose intolerance (TLI). Adding Colief to your baby's milk (breast or formula) before each feeding can help them digest the milk by breaking down most of the lactose. Studies have shown that excessive crying associated with TLI may be reduced by up to 40% when baby's milk is treated with Colief Infant Digestive Aid! You can buy this online or in stores at Walgreens nationwide. Go here to watch some of the mother's testimonials.
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I hope these tips for soothing a crying newborn come in handy. I know how hard those first few weeks and months can be, and I know as a mom that I sure could have used all the help I could get! Like I said before, we need to be helping each other, rather than tearing each other down. If you know a new mom or see one who looks overwhelmed with a crying, screaming baby, offer some help. From one mom to another, a friendly smile of encouragement and a simple "What can I do to help?" goes a long way! Even if she doesn't take it, the fact that you offered will probably make her day.
Have you experienced a baby with colic? How did you treat it?
Do you have any great tips for soothing a crying baby?
I'd love to hear them!
Colief® Infant Digestive Aid is a gluten-free dietary supplement for the reduction of colic-associated crying resulting from temporary lactose intolerance (TLI) in infants. Colief Infant Digestive Aid may help reduce the crying time associated with colic by breaking down the lactose in breast milk or infant formula, making it easier for infants to digest. To learn more, visit http://us.colief.com or LIKE the brand on Facebook.
This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text and experiences are my own. Colief Infant Digestive Aid is a dietary supplement to provide relief due to colic-associated crying from temporary lactose intolerance (TLI). These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.