Babies pretty much have two settings: crying and not crying.
Being a parent is pretty easy when your baby is in “not crying” mode. You get to enjoy some smiles, bask in some giggles, and pretty much let your parental ego tank get filled to overflowing.
It’s when our babies are in “crying” mode that self-doubt starts creeping into our soul like dark fog in a horror flick. We start to wonder if we were really all that cut out for parenthood. After all, he just keeps crying and we don’t. know. WHY?
Well, let me shine my Giant Ray Beam and burn the horror fog away.
Babies cry. It’s kinda their thing.
In fact, if your baby NEVER cries (and I mean never, not “once-in-a-while”), you should be concerned enough to call a doctor. The Milestone Marker can provide you with the other “pink flag” signs to be aware of in catching (and treating) early developmental delays.
My Coffee Chat with Your Baby
Last week your baby and I sat down at Starbucks (he had a latte without the espresso) and had a real heart-to-heart. We really connected.
Anyway, he asked me to share (in confidence, of course) how this year was going so far. Here were his main points:
- He thinks you totally rock. You are BY FAR his favorite female.
- He really likes the guy who holds him…except for when his cheeks are sandpaper.
- Eating is his favorite sport.
- He’s had these bouts of sadness lately and wants you to know that it’s not you. It’s him.
Like a good listening friend, I couldn’t let that last comment go by without digging a little deeper. (It’s the social work degree. It compluses me.)
We spent the next hour talking about all the things he’s feeling and thinking on the inside while he’s wailing on the outside.
I have since, with his permission, taken those reasons and compiled them into a list of things you’ll want to be familiar with. Then, when he starts crying, you can go through and start troubleshooting how best to intervene and give the relief.
Why So Sad?
Deciphering the Language of Cry
- I’m hot. Please take off one of my ten layers.
- I’m cold. Please wrap me in my favorite swaddle.
- I have a hair tourniquet. It’s wrapped around my finger (or my penis!) and is cutting off circulation.
- This outfit is scratchy, put me in something softer.
- The tags on this outfit are scraping me, can you cut them off?
- My finger/foot/hand/arm/leg/head is stuck in something.
- The lights in this room are too bright.
- The TV is too loud.
- The dog keeps sniffing my crotch.
- My pacifier tastes funny. How old is it again?
- The hole on the nipple for this bottle is too small and sucking is making my cheeks sore.
- The hole on the nipple for this bottle is too large and I’m practically drowning.
- My teeth feel like drill bits and I need something to make the pain go away.
- My tummy is rumblin’. Feed me, Seymour!
- I’m sitting on little brown pebbles.
- Uncle John’s laugh scared me so much that I wet myself.
- I’m sitting on clay, and the butt print I’ve been working on is no longer interesting.
- I’m beyond myself with exhaustion and I don’t remember what sleep is. Please teach me sleep skills!
- The rich scent of ammonia is making my eyes water and burn my bum. Fresh linens would feel heavenly on my nether regions.
- I’m bored. Please take me on a walk, or read me a book, or show me an interesting toy.
- The cat keeps trying to sit on me.
- My throat burns after I eat.
- You turned on the hair dryer and it startled me.
- Big brother slipped me a lemon when you weren’t looking.
- The little red bumps covering my adorable tushie are throbbing. I need relief!
- I’m an introvert and overstimulated. Put me alone in my crib for a few minutes.
- My pacifier keeps falling out. I need something to hold it in place.
- These long things sticking out of my body keep flailing around. I feel more secure when they are pinned tightly to my body.
- I want to be cuddled and rocked.
- I’m not sure I’ve ever told you this: I hate hats.
- My limbs are itching for movement. Put me in the bouncer or bounce with me on an exercise ball and let me get my squirms out.
- I need to listen to something mundane and repetitive, like running tap water, the vacuum, dryer, bathroom fan, or a white noise machine.
- I need to be surprised. Take me with you into the shower and let me experience the soft warm rain on my back.
- My tummy is a Vesuvius of gas. Are you sure you don’t have any all-natural gripe water (stomach gas) or probiotics (intestinal gas) in the cabinet?
- I want to turn around and see what all the activity is BEHIND me. Hold me so I can look out!
- I’m frustrated. I’m still hungry and you’re putting away the breast! I’m a Kermit Feeder!
- Teach me sign language so I can tell you when I want more. (Movements are learned before language!)
- I’m sad at the state of the world. I mourn over the womb. Just use a few advanced soothing skills to help me get through it all.
- I’m uncomfortable. Dad hates wearing a tie and so do I.
- You’ve just handed me to Great-Grandma Edna and she smells funny.
- You put me in the bathtub! You are evil!
- You took me out of the bathtub! You are evil!
- I’m hungry. Again. (Hint: This great book teaches what the normal sleeping & feeding requirements are for different ages.)
- I don’t like it when you and Dad fight. I’m emotionally plugged-in to both of you, even though I’m so small.
- Pretty sure I swallowed a bowling ball. Can you burp me to get it out?
- I can’t see you! I need to bond with a lovey so I don’t feel so lonely when I can’t see your face.
- I just need a good cry. Put in some good corded earplugs (so I can’t find and choke on them later), hold me tight, and let me wail out all my sorrows.
You’re in Good Company
I know right now things feel pretty overwhelming and desperate.
Know this, though, friend. This little person is growing a little more everyday. This isn’t your life for ever. Keep asking questions, trying options, and exploring ideas.
He will be smiling before you know it.
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