If you’ve ever had a newborn, then it doesn’t surprise you to hear that babies cry. Sometimes they cry quite a bit. In fact, sometimes they cry inconsolably for hours with no apparent reason for the crying.
There are many great articles out there that suggest strategies to calm fussy newborns (see a couple examples here and here). That isn’t the point of this post, though. This post is about YOU. How can you stay calm and collected when faced with incessant crying?
You are biologically programmed to respond to your infant’s cries, so it’s no surprise that you find it difficult to continuously hear the cries when nothing you do seems to alleviate your baby’s discomfort. I know it’s difficult because I’ve been there. In times like this it is hard to act kindly towards your spouse and/or older children, to care for yourself, and even to stay calm and not “lose it” with your baby.
I have encouraging news for you today: You can stay calm when faced with an inconsolable infant. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s also not complicated. Here are some simple strategies to help you remain calm when your baby won’t stop crying.
How to stay calm when your baby cries inconsolably
- Remind yourself that you are not a bad parent. When you can’t console your baby, you may begin to wonder if you are a bad parent. You’re not. Don’t believe the lie that a crying baby indicates you are somehow insufficient. Remember that crying—even for prolonged periods of time—is a completely normal behavior for infants (source).
- Step away from your baby for a few minutes. If you feel your frustration building, it is okay to place your baby down in a safe place (e.g., the crib, a bouncer, a swing) and step out of the room for a few minutes. Go make yourself a cup of tea, wash your face, or eat a snack. You’ll feel much better if you do! I’m not advocating that you let your newborn “cry it out,” but a short break for you is often necessary to get refreshed so you are able to patiently face the crying again.
- Ask a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor to watch your baby so you can have a break. Sometimes you just need a break so you can take a nap, shower, or get out of the house for a few minutes. If you have a friend, family member, or neighbor who can be trusted with your baby, then consider asking if he or she will watch your little one for a short time so you can get away for a bit. If these individuals are parents, then they will understand your need for a break! This time away can do you a world of good.
- Listen to music. Music can help camouflage the sound of the crying so it is less noticeable. It also gives your mind something to focus on, which is a very welcome distraction after hearing wailing for hours. My husband found it particularly helpful to use headphones when he would rock or pace with my firstborn. Muffling the loud cries helped him handle the sound so he could continue comforting her without growing frustrated.
- Go outside. When you’ve been attending to a crying baby for some time, a change of scenery can be really refreshing. This isn’t the only reason to go outside, though. When you’re inside, the sound of your baby’s cries are trapped around you by the walls. When you go outside, the sound of the cries can spread into the environment around you, making them seem so much less intense! If at all possible, take your baby on a walk or even just out onto a porch or balcony in order to benefit from this.
- Review Bible verses and pray. If you’re a Christian, then this strategy really should be among the first (if not the first) strategy you use. God invites us to come before Him with our needs (Hebrews 4:16). We should ask Him for patience with our babies and for an understanding of how to help them feel better. God provides many words of encouragement for us in the Bible. When my firstborn was a newborn, I compiled this list of Scripture verses to calm mom when baby won’t stop crying. That post includes a set of printable Scripture cards that you can download and print in order to keep the verses on hand for review whenever you need them the most.
The reality is that the crying won’t last forever. Someday your baby will be less fussy! I know that this sounds terse and hollow when you’re in the thick of it. However, it may be a little encouraging if you can keep it somewhere in the back of your mind.
What strategies am I missing? What things did you do (or do you currently do) to help yourself stay calm and collected?
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