I’m Gene, a special advisor for you, and I live in every cell of your body and your baby’s (TSK’s) body! I live in the DNA parts which are the instructions that tell all the rest of your body what to do. I’m a little bossy that way!
Today I want to talk to you about one of the most helpless feelings in the world; being a sleep-deprived parent of a crying infant! This is pretty common and can lead to depression for parents or anyone in the household.
So, what can be done?
A recent article in the journal Pediatrics examined over 700 infants and their parents in Australia.
- Half of the group was given instructions on why babies cry and some soothing techniques.
- Then families were evaluated at 4 months and 6 months for several things including depression.
The interesting thing was that the baby behaviors were the same in both groups (in other words about the same number of babies were still extra fussy in both groups).
The results of the study were important:
- There was much less depression in the families who had learned more about why babies cry and what to do about it at the 6 month evaluation.
- Fewer of those babies had had formula changes (which is a common thing to try, and it usually doesn’t work).
- Parents who understood that excessive crying was normal were able to get into more daily routines, which usually helped everyone.
- They found that babies who fed every 2 hours for the first few weeks seemed to have fewer daytime crying fits by 4 months of age.
Take-home message is that crying up to several hours a day is normal. Most of the time we NEVER know for sure why! We just have to accept that it is normal!
Parents who can accept that this is a part of the first 6 months and plan around this will be able to be more in control of their emotions, and the TSK often responds. It’s that mirror neuron thing, where TSK “reflects” your mood back to you!
Babies pick up on your mood, so if you can be calm, TSK is more likely to be calm! If you smile, TSK is more likely to smile!
Things to do for a crying TSK:
1) Be sure TSK isn’t hungry, has a wet or soiled diaper, isn’t too cold or too hot (babies often are too hot, rather than too cold), and isn’t sick.
2) Swaddling, or wrapping in a light blanket can keep the little arms and legs from wiggling so much. Some think that TSK may get himself over-excited by wiggling so much! Remember that TSK needs to be able to move some when swaddled. Don’t swaddle too tightly.
3) Some babies cry because they are over-tired, and all you can do is to gently lay them in their beds and let them cry. It is important that someone be available if needed.
4) If possible, caregivers need to take turns being available. Each hour or two, one person can be available, while the other does other things, maybe wearing ear buds/media player, or goes to the store.
5) Being consistent in feeding, changing diapers and sleep patterns allows the infant to know what to expect.
6) Smile, laugh and talk to TSK, EVEN IF YOU DON”T FEEL LIKE IT! Laughing, even if not “real”, helps your brain to feel better! (Remember that you need to do this many times, at least 10 times, for it to work!)
When to call your doctor:
If TSK ever:
- has a fever
- isn’t eating well
- is vomiting or acts like it hurts to vomit
- is losing weight
Keep your Well Child visits and call your doctor with any questions.
Give that kid a hug, and remember that this, too, will pass. Gene
*Gene blogs and website content is written by Greta McFarland, MD, FAAP