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Coping with a crying baby

Supporting parents to cope with crying
To support parents to cope with crying we must reassure them that crying is normal; give them tips to soothe their baby, and help them to understand that crying is simply babies’ way of communicating at birth and that very young babies cannot control when they cry.

Young babies should not be left to cry regularly as repeated exposure to high stress levels can be damaging to their developing brains. However on rare occasions this can be the best thing for their parents to do.

Parents need to know that if they are getting stressed with their baby, then its ok – in fact it is essential – to put their baby down in a safe place and calm down.

A short film on 'Shaken Babies' is available on You Tube.

Babies are fragile. Handling a baby roughly or shaking them can cause death or serious disability.

  1. Crying is a normal part of babies’ development, and some babies will cry a lot during the first three months of life. Sometimes babies cry for no apparent reason and can be difficult to soothe.
  2. There are many different ways to soothe a baby. Over time you can learn what makes your baby cry, and what helps to soothe them.
  3. It’s normal to be frustrated when your baby cries and no one will judge you if you need to ask for help.
  4. If you are frustrated with your baby’s crying, it’s important to take the time to calm down. Put you baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes until you feel better.

Shockingly, babies are much more likely to be killed than other children. The latest homicide statistics show that in a third of all murders of children under 16 in the UK, the victims were under one year old. The most common cause of death in babies is injuries that are caused when a baby is shaken, hit or thrown.

Excessive crying is given as a common reason for child abuse in infants and high proportions of parents whose babies cry excessively report feelings of aggression towards their baby, even if they never act on these feelings.

It’s important to remember that it can happen to anyone, although some babies such as those whose parents have substance misuse problems, mental illnesses, are experiencing domestic abuse and/or have a history of violence are more at risk.

There are three main reasons that crying can push parents to breaking point:

  1. When tired, the noise of a crying baby and the frustration at not being able to stop this crying can increase parents’ stress levels to unmanageable levels.
  2. Some parents feel that the crying is an indication that there is something wrong with their baby or with their own parenting skills, and this leads to strong emotional feelings of guilt and anxiety.
  3. Others parents, particularly those who are not attuned to their baby’s feelings and have a poor understanding of child development, may think that their baby is crying deliberately to manipulate them and will react angrily to this.

Further information is available on our Resources page re 'What's Wrong' Poster

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