In Rocky III, when Clubber Lang is asked to make a prediction for the fight, he answers, “Pain!” Not that I enjoy quoting Mr. T, but he might as well be talking about babyhood. Nobody likes pain, but you can’t always shield your baby from it. No, you may not dress him in a Onesie of Armor; that type of knighthood is completely futile. Although I do highly recommend a Diaper of Armor.
Pain is a common reason for a baby’s cry. Sometimes your baby may have bumped his head or caught his hand in something while you were not looking. Check to see if he has any red marks on his head or fingers. A baby’s skin is so sensitive; you will usually see a mark left behind from even a minor injury. Don’t panic – babies have incredibly resilient skin, and a scratch or small bruise will probably be gone the next day. If it was a minor bump or bruise, he will stop crying on his own in a few minutes.
For minor injury tears, try using a Boo-Boo Animal for distraction. Even though you can buy these in the store, you can also make your own by drawing a face on a washcloth and wrapping it around a small ice pack to make the head of a bear or bunny. It’s not like your baby will be picky about the artistry. (You call this a bunny?) You don’t necessarily have to put ice on a minor injury; babies just like the special attention of receiving the “boo-boo” friend. This is the emergence of a common behavioral technique known as Milking It, which will be further developed during toddlerhood.
Another great distraction from tears is a set of wind chimes. The movement and sudden, soothing noise will startle your baby into a silent fascination. Keep chimes in your living room and bathroom, and use them to calm your kids. (Be careful when you hold a baby up close to the chimes, as he may grab them and rip the chimes off one by one.) Anything that causes a change in environment of sight and sound may be effective.
If your baby has been sleeping through the night and suddenly will not go to bed, it may be due to teething. Review Teething in a Pit of Alligators for tips on how to comfort your baby through teething pain.
What if you have reviewed every possibility on the checklist, and you still can’t figure out why your baby is crying? A pediatrician may diagnose colic if your baby cries for a minimum of three hours a day, three or more days a week, for at least three weeks. Colic involves inconsolable crying, not just fussiness. It usually begins during the third and sixth week and can last for a few months. But ask any parent who has gone through it, and they’ll tell you it feels like years.
The most common sense remedy for colic seems to be for the mother to put in ear plugs, bury her head under the pillow, and come out six months later. But hibernation is not very practical, is it? You will have to do as much as possible to keep your baby comfortable. Colicky babies typically like to be held on their bellies and require lots of extra soothing.
There is a colic remedy out there referred to as Gripe Water, a seemingly rude name. (If your friend started complaining about her menstrual cramps, would you offer her some Gripe Water?) Most brands of this remedy, which has been around for over a hundred years, contain peppermint, ginger, and/or chamomile. These ingredients have long been known as tummy soothers, and it probably wouldn’t hurt for mothers of colicky babies to have some as well!
If all else fails, one of the most common reasons for a baby’s tears is fatigue. Moms can completely relate to this feeling, as they commonly burst into tears when they are awakened for yet another 2 a.m. feeding. You have to realize that your baby is even more uncomfortable than you are. Moms have to be completely unselfish and focus on the needs of others before their own.