When the Baby Won’t Stop Crying
When an infant cries, she is trying to tell you something. Usually it’s easy to figure out what the baby is saying: “I’m hungry,” “I’m wet,” “I’m frightened.” During the first months, an infant’s primary needs are touch, eye contact, movement, smiles, nourishment and a close, caring relationship. Ideally, you read the baby’s signals, meet her needs and she stops crying. When you respond quickly, the baby gradually learns that the world is a safe place and develops basic trust in herself and the world around her. She forms an attachment to you and a secure base from which to explore the world. Your sensitive, responsive interactions with the infant enhance brain development along with all her other early physical, emotional, intellectual and social development.
But sometimes, all your attempts to provide comfort don’t work. The baby cries and cries and just won’t be comforted. The longer the baby cries, the longer it takes to stop crying. You try everything that has worked before and become frustrated and find it difficult to feel positive and loving with the baby and her family.
Why does an infant cry like this — and what can you do?
Keep in mind that crying is how a child tells you he needs something. It’s up to you to use your physical touch, kind words, tender loving care and experience to soothe, comfort and help him adjust.
Stay nearby and be as calm as possible
An inconsolable baby often feels great sadness and confusion at being separated from his mother or family and needs to express his feelings. Whether you are 2 years old or 42 years old, you will have a sense of loss when you are not able to be with the person you most want to be with. The baby needs to experience the security of being with you. Hold him and stay nearby. Let him take as long as he needs to cry. Reassure other children and parents that you are aware of his feelings and that his needs are being met.
Reprinted with the permission of the California Childcare Health Program.
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