My baby is six weeks old and cries constantly. The only time she stops crying is when I hold her. I am exhausted and am really wondering if I will be a good mother to her. My other children never cried like this.
Welcoming a new member of the family is both physically and emotionally exhausting. And when that newborn makes loud and constant use of her vocal cords to let you know what she wants, it is really exhausting.
Babies do differ in crying. Some babies fuss after waiting a long time, while others begin to cry at the first twinge of distress. Excessive, persistent crying is often termed “colic.” According to research, babies who are persistent criers do, during the period of colic, react more quickly with a cry than other babies.
Colic behaviors usually peak at about 6 weeks of age. As you have found, carrying a baby with persistent crying can help reduce the duration of the crying. Holding infants helps them regulate the intensity of their reactions: your baby learns at early that you are a partner in regulating her emotions.
Your TLC, however, can’t reduce how many times a day or how loudly she cries so my recommendations are:
· Buy or borrow a carrier that frees your hands. It should be comfortable for both of you. Having her close to your body will help her learn that you are a partner in helping her find a state of calm.
· Buy a couple of sets of ear plugs. Seriously! This strategy, suggested by a friend, is a brilliant way of managing your exposures to the high pitched, unpredictable noise that—by design—causes stress in adults.
· Enlist mature parenting partners. In some cultures that practice attachment parenting with the help of a “village” of extended family members, there isn’t even a word for colic. Holding really does help. (Caution: statistics tell us that an infant with excessive crying should not stay in the care of an unrelated adolescent male: both are at an unpredictable stage of learning to regulate their emotions.)
The most recent research indicates—contrary to popular belief—colic is not an indicator of a child with a difficult temperament. Although parents often feel after surviving this period of intense fuzziness and understandable grumpiness that their toddler is more difficult than their other children, research demonstrates that toddlers who cried excessively compared with those who did not, actually show no behavioral differences.
“This too shall pass” is a helpful parenting phrase. And it will.