- Family and Parenting
What Your Baby Is Really Saying
There are two absolute facts with babies: 1. All babies are unique and 2. They do not come with instruction manuals. When they are born, the first thing you hear is them yelling. The biggest question all parents, from first timers to old hands, all ask is why is my baby crying and how do I fix it. With both of my children they did not have colic and never cried without reason. Infants under one years old rarely cry without reason. The obvious answers are: feed me, change me, cuddle me, and help me go to bed. Colic babies are the only exception and some doctors feel that colic is a natural occurrence but in my experience with my own children and those that I have taken care of it isn't uncontrollable crying for no reason but instead usually gas build up that is only treatable by gas drops. Contrary to popular belief that all parents automatically know what their baby wants and they leave the rest of us feeling like we are inadequate parents because we have no idea what our child wants. In reality what these parents do is a simple observation checklist. I always start at food and work my way down to tired as the causes for crying and crankiness. My personal checklist goes:
1. Is my baby hungry? Is there any rooting going on (mainly for breastfeed babies)? When was the last time my child ate? How much did they eat? If the answer is yes to the second, over an hour, and less than normal in order than the baby is likely hungry so either give a breast or make a bottle for the first attempt at calming baby down. There are growth spurts that will make baby cranky and hungrier than usual which my children hit them at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 months, 8 months, and 1 year.
2. Change me. Babies are all different on this because my son was content to sit in a dirty diaper (wet and/or poopy) all day long and you usually have to catch him to change him. My daughter is the complete opposite and yells bloody murder as soon as she's wet or poopy. She hates with a passion being dirty especially and wants to get it off as soon as she's done it. You'll hear it and then before she is even done she is yelling to be changed.
3. Cuddle me. After exhausting the first two comes the thought that maybe the baby only wants to cuddle. This gets a little tricky because at times my daughter could care less about letting me hold her and instead she wants my husband or her older brother (she is 2 months old and he is 2 years old). She keeps yelling at me and then all of a sudden when I hand her off she is immediately quiet so I wonder what I did wrong when all it is she wants them instead. She sees me every 2 hours or so for food so she welcomes seeing other people.
4. Help me go to bed. Sometimes babies are done with everyone and just need to go to bed. When the list above doesn't work then we will put my daughter in her crib and let her try to go to sleep in a quiet room by herself. We will lay her down and check on her every 5-10 minutes until she is either still acting cranky or falls asleep.
I'll say it again that every baby is unique and they do things at their own pace in their own way. My son and daughter are night and day sometimes where I swear one of them was switched at birth. All babies have different ways of communicating and it's just a thing that is learned from observation and trial and error. As they get older they will start saying gibberish but add pointing when they want something and then one day you'll realize that your child is either independent and has gotten what they wanted on their own or said their first whole sentence on what they want you to get them. That might actually be the point where you will want to cry because your baby is growing up too fast.