My baby won’t stop crying. What am I doing wrong?
I think one of the biggest shocks I ever had in my life was finding out its totally normal for newborn babies to cry for two to three hours a day for the first weeks and months. In other words: a baby will cry several times – adding up to hours a day – no matter who its parent is, or what the parent does.
Newborn babies have only a few ways to communicate: the most useful one for them is crying. You might like to regard this as a design fault. Babies are used to being in the womb, minding their own business and hanging out at the Umbilical Cord Cafe, when suddenly they’re thrust into a world full of touch, taste, smell, sound and light, with a digestive system that has never had to work this way before. No wonder they burst into tears every now and then, especially at the end of the day (I mean, who doesn’t?).
If a physical problem is ruled out, and your baby’s getting enough to eat and its nappy changed when it’s wet, then your baby’s temperament – the personality they came with – is the biggest factor affecting whether they cry a lot. Doesn’t mean your kid is a sook, or weak, or ‘naughty’. It just means they’re reacting to all the new feelings of being a baby. Many parents say their baby cried a lot but grew into a really happy kid. It has nothing to do with your skills or aptitude as a parent. You can learn tricks that will help. Do everything you can, but treat yourself with special kindness. Don’t try to do it alone: traditionally babies have been brought up in gigantic extended family situations, with lots of help and a collective approach. Besides, when you’re sleep deprived, you sometimes can’t see solutions, and that isn’t your fault. Above all, take it day by day. This hard time will end.
There’s much more on crying, and possible solutions to try, in the book Babies & Toddlers: The Sequel to Up the Duff.