Please Help with His Crying!

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Your newborn baby is helpless and totally dependent. But he was born with one strength — a powerful cry. It is truly amazing that something so little can make that much noise. The reason your baby's cry is so disturbing is that we humans are hard wired to "do something" when we hear a baby cry.

Babies Cry A Lot

Researchers have measured how much babies cry. A normal newborn cries 3 to 5 hours out of every 24. Yep. Your baby's crying is normal.

Most of the time you will be able to calm your baby down by holding him and feeding him. With time you will be able to distinguish his different cries. One cry will mean "hold me"; a different cry will mean "I'm tired"; another will mean "change my diaper." You and your baby will develop true communication, even without words. But not right away.

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Have Patience

Especially in the early days, there will be times when your normal healthy baby will cry, and no matter what you do, he won't stop. You've fed him. You've held him. You've changed him, rocked him, sung to him and danced with him. You even took him for a ride in the car. Pretty soon, you are crying too. It's not you — it's the baby.

The one thing he wants is to be back in that warm, tight, familiar uterus. No matter what, you can't give him that. He will adapt to being out here in the big world, but it just takes time — six to eight weeks for most babies.

So the best thing you can give him when he won't stop crying is your patience. Hold him close, let him hear your heart beat and your soft low voice. Tell him he will get used to being outside, but it just takes time.

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Take a Break

Sometimes you may be so worn out and your nerves may be so frazzled that you can't safely hold your baby. It is perfectly OK to put him down in a safe place, shut the door and let him cry. Call a friend or relative, put on loud music, take a shower, or run the vacuum. Your baby will not hurt himself by crying. Eventually he will tire himself out and fall asleep. When he wakes up, hold him and feed him. He is too young to remember that he was pitching a fit and that you let him cry it out.

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Thanks to Janelle Aby MD, Stanford School Of Medicine, Newborn Nursery, and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital for the use of occasional photographs.