Soothing Your Baby: Deciphering Why And How To Calm Your Infant

I love babies. The way they look, how everything is so new to them, their laughter, their smell (sometimes); the list goes on. Unfortunately for parents, however, babies are not the best communicators when it comes to expressing what exactly is wrong with them, which can often leave parents guessing and grasping at anything and everything to try to soothe their irritated infant.

When was the last time your baby called you into its nursery and told you it was having a hard time sleeping because he or she was all stuffed up? Did they ever send you a text, asking you to pick up some baby Advil on the way home from work because they were feeling a little clammy?

The answer is never, because part of being a parent is putting on your detective hat and learning from the many cues your little one provides that might give you a better clue or understanding, and hopefully a solution, to that which is troubling them.

While it might seem that the reasons are limitless for a cranky critter, the truth is there is usually only one of a finite amount of things wrong with your child that is causing their discomfort. In order to calm and soothe your infant, you first must find out what is wrong with them, which is why we have taken the liberty of listing out the most common causes for child discomfort, what to look out for, and most importantly, what to do about it.

8  A Dirty Diaper

This is perhaps one of the most common reasons for a crying baby and can also be the easiest to figure out (depending on how brave you are). If you find your baby crying, and it has been a little while since you have last changed them, then give them the quick ‘smell test’ and if you still aren't convinced, pull the diaper to one side and take a look.

Every baby is different, and some can tolerate the discomfort of a soiled diaper more than others. However, one thing that no baby can stand is irritation in the diaper area which is mostly caused by being in a dirty, damp diaper for too long.

Try using all natural products to help soothe your babies tushy and other areas, and also, keep a look out as soon as irrigation begins. If you get into the habit early, dirty diapers will always be a reality, but diaper rash and irritation won't be. 

7  Sleepy Or Overtired

In some ways, babies are not too dissimilar from adults, and one of the first similarities that come to mind is how sensitive we can be to a lack of sleep or being overtired. We might even go as far as to say that we act in similar ways, a little more fussy than normal, eyes glazed over.

That's because being tired comes with universal signs, but that still doesn’t mean you shouldn't be on the look out for them. Tired babies will demonstrate a painful grimace, accompanied with clenched fists, jerking limbs, and pulling up of the knees. If your infant is demonstrating any or all of these symptoms, chances are you have a tired tyke, but now you need to get them to sleep.

As if you didn’t already pay enough attention to your child, make sure to note what soothes in terms of sleep aids and what environments they find most conducive to slumber. This could be rocking your child, going for a car ride, putting on a certain song or even running the vacuum the cleaner. Parents are always amazed at what soothes children, which makes paying attention and maybe having a little fun with it can go a long way. 

6  Hungry

After this one, I am confident I have covered the big three, but don’t worry, I won't stop there. Hunger has to be the number one, most associated reason that people have when they hear a less than happy half pint ) and that is because aside from the above two things, it's pretty much all they do.

When a baby is hungry, most exhibit symptoms such as whining, crying, waking up when they should be sleeping, sucking on their fists or fingers, smacking their lips, and even resisting food when offered to them (my personal favorite).

Aside from the obvious, which if you couldn't guess, feed your baby when they are hungry; for those times when they are putting up a little bit of resistance, my partner and I have found that a little sugar water can help if you're feeding the natural way, and if they are a bit older, try keeping some of their favorite (yet healthy) snacks on hand, like fruit and veggie sauce packages.

5  Wants To Be Held

This is something that I am learning holds truer than I though it would with the older children get, but perhaps I am just lucky (or not, I haven't decided yet), but for today, we will assume that I am speaking about babies and infants exclusively.

Keeping the similarities between babies and adults going, and yes being hungry was one of them, sometimes we all just need a hug to make us feel better, but babies and infants especially.

Babies are very sensitive to touch, especially after spending so much time in the womb so it only begs to reason that they crave the warm embrace of being held by their parents. From the sound of their beating hearts, to their smell, infants are very intuitive and find comfort in consistency; as much as they do in a warm set of arms holding them. Keep a look out for your child reach up and grasping, crying and a general restlessness.

I also wanted to point out that is you have noticed that many of the symptom's exhibit by irritated infants are similar; you would be correct. Remember, what I said about babies being bad communicators, so take this as more of a checklist; when in which once you have gone through will hopefully result in a soothed baby. 

4  Stomach Problems/Needs To Burp

I choose to put this one after ‘wanting to be held’ because very often you can kill two birds with one stone, and multi-tasking is an ever important skill that I think every parent should hone.

That being said, the normal cause for gastro discomfort is usually gas, but unfortunately, usually they will let you know that their stomach is a touch on the upset side by, you guessed it, crying, grimacing, and whining. Don’t worry, soothing them is not a just one-trick pony on this one.

If you suspect your child to have gas, the first thing I would recommend is downing your spit rag on your shoulder and going for a little ‘burpy walk’. More times than not, I find this works, but sometimes, however, it seems you have to dig a little deeper.

If you still think it's gas, or have simply run out of things to do, try lying your little one on their back and slowing move their legs in a bicycle motion up towards their chest. This can often help the digestion process, because let's be honest, babies do a lot of eating. Just be fair warned what end you are on while doing this.

3  Teething

This one, much like all the others, is inevitable, so it is best to learn as much as can about it before you find yourself scrambling (like I did). Teething for children is an incredibly painful experience (and one of the first) that they will go through during their tenderest of years. The best way to check to see if your child is teething is to look and with a clean finger, feel around for any new incoming teeth.

Once you have established teething as the culprit, the question now is what to do about it? Thankfully, there is no shortage of options to try.

A few include gum massage, a cold spoon or washcloth, chilled foods, teething toys, over the counter pain reliever, and that's just naming a few. A quick Google search should provide you with no shortage of options to try that border from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I would suggest trying the aforementioned first.  

2  They Are Sick

Babies get sick, and just like an under the weather spouse (who in some cases might be worse), need some extra TLC to get through it, especially since they are rather limited in their ability to vocalize their discomfort.

The easiest way to check to see if your child is ill is to check their temperature, and if it is a head cold, you will probably know long before you have the chance to do that by the amount of mucus everywhere (nobody said parenthood was glamorous).

While it is easy for parents, especially if it's your first time around, to jump to conclusions and rush off to the doctor, in most cases you can save yourself a lot of time by first turning to an over the counter remedy geared towards infants. If after following the instructions and symptoms persist, then I would most certainly encourage you to contact your child's health-care professional.

1  A Reason You Could Never Possibly Imagine (Or Plan For)

Nobody will ever fully understand what it is like to be a baby, because of the limitations in communications that a baby-adult relationship is faced with.

Bearing that in mind, it is nearly impossible to tell that your baby is crying because he got dust in his eyes, or that he has a loose thread wrapped around his toe(be careful about that one, it happens; try putting your babies' socks on inside out), or that as much as he appreciates being hauled around all by you, he really just wants to go home and go to sleep, or eat, or be changed, or, well, you get the idea.

While infants will always be full of surprises to their parents, over the years, we have learned that more often than not, it is a finite amount of things that are wrong with them. By understanding this, and eliminating the possibilities, you become that much closer to a calm, soothed baby, and a calmed, soothed parent.

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