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"Help! My Baby Cries All the Time!"

Posted Sep 14 2009 2:52pm

Those huge tears rolling down Latisha’s face say it all. “Antoine cries all the time, and so do I!” this young mother reports. I watch as her new baby seems to wind up for a big one. His face gets red, his hands start to tremble, and his legs stiffen. This mother never imagined how overwhelmed she would feel when her tiny newborn enters the “Rebooting Zone”–fussing or crying. Most normal, healthy babies begin to cry more around 42 weeks gestation, or two weeks after birth (if the baby was born full-term). Babies typically move from crying two hours a day to crying three hours a day by six weeks of age. Then their crying tapers to about one hour a day by twelve weeks of age.

The Science: "Just Tell Me What T.O. DO!"

…Latisha exclaims as her baby cries loudly.

T – Talk to your baby. Lean over and use a persistent, sing-songy voice close to her ear. Give your baby a few seconds to notice and respond to your voice.
O – Observe your baby’s efforts to contribute to his own calming. (See DVD clips) Many parents are surprised to learn that babies have instinctual behaviors that help them calm down. She might bring her hand to her mouth and with your help start sucking her finger or thumb. He may make sucking movements and start to quiet down. Another baby may look like she’s taking up sword fighting (the fencing reflex): her head turns to the side, one arm and one leg extend while the other arm and leg flex (SEE DVD clip ). This maneuver helps some babies start to settle down. And finally, some babies use behavioral SOSs (See DVD clips ) to turn off the excessive stimulation around them. She may stare into space or appear drowsy then begin to calm down.

DO – If the baby is still crying, your help is needed.

Hold her arms against her chest and continue that quiet, persistent talking. Swaddle the baby or encourage the baby to suck your finger, the breast, or a pacifier (only after breastfeeding is well established). Taking these actions one step at a time, parents discover what is most comforting to their baby.

An "Ah-Ha" Moment for this mother!
Little Antoine starts to cry again. Latisha leans over and speaks quietly into his ear. He looks surprised but continues to cry. He smacks his lips a moment and then quiets right down when Latisha holds his tiny but strong arms securely against his chest. Latisha can’t believe her eyes (or ears!) “Antoine and I are a good team,” she giggles. “We’ll figure this out together!”
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