If only babies could learn to write while still in the womb. Glow-in-the-dark pens might work, or maybe even a Lite-Brite. That way when they finally arrive, they could eliminate all of their cryptic cries with a simple note: Dear Mom, you haven’t changed my diaper in several hours. Please clean up this mess. Love, Junior.
Alas, we’re left with our continuing checklist to discover what is bothering our little one.
The Diaper. Check for a wet/dirty diaper or a rash. Sometimes the diaper is too TIGHT, so try loosening the tabs slightly. Of course, you don’t want the diaper to be too loose either, as Mt. Vepoovius may erupt and leak down your baby’s legs and back, causing more crying. (And it’s never easy to clean up the volcanic lava of baby poop.) Some babies pull off their own diaper by prying on the tabs, so always put pants on a baby during crib time. Maybe we need to rethink diaper tabs and consider metal safety locks.
Hair. Sometimes a mother’s long hair can get wrapped around her baby’s fingers or toes and drive him crazy. You can’t figure out what is causing the tears until you finally discover an entangled hair. Your hair can also get stuck in your baby’s mouth, which can understandably be irritating. Since he has no teeth yet, he can’t even use it for dental floss. It is a good idea to keep your hair tied back when you are holding your baby.
The Clothes. Some babies become extremely irritated by the tags on their clothes. It never hurts to remove tags just to see if that was causing the crying. (I know that when I get irritated by a tag on my clothes, removing the tag always makes me stop crying.) You can completely avoid this problem by only buying TAGLESS clothing. In rare cases, babies can be allergic to the materials in their clothes, such as cotton. This condition would manifest itself by an eczema-like skin rash.
The Burp. Gas is a common reason for fussiness in babies. Burping a baby is not just an “old wives’ tale.” Let me assure you, babies do need to burp, and sometimes this causes ear-piercing screams.
To measure the State of Burposity of your baby, determine how many burps make him happy. You don’t have to stop at just one. Nitrogen Babies are gassier than others and require five or more burps. (Warning: Do not light a match near one of these babies.) If you burp your baby and he is still fussy, keep going.
Sometimes your baby will need to be burped much later after you already fed and burped him. When a baby is sleeping peacefully after a feeding and wakes up suddenly crying, it usually indicates a gas bubble.
While there are many useful burping techniques, I only found one to be fail-proof with my own children. As soon as you are done feeding your baby, support his neck and chin (to keep the head upright) while gently lifting him up in the air over your head. This move may seem strange, but it causes the air bubbles to rise to the top quickly. Bring him back down to snuggle towards your body. Now repeatedly pat the middle of his back in the rhythm of a heartbeat. Many moms are too afraid to pat hard enough. You shouldn’t whack your child, but the pat should be firm enough that you actually hear a thumping sound. If your touch is TOO light, you will be tapping until he leaves for college.
Check back next week for even more help with baby cries…