Published on 17. June 2020

Inconsolable? Help for babies who cry a lot – and for their parents

Why do babies cry? How much crying and screaming is normal? And at what point is a baby a "restless baby"? If the offspring cries often and inconsolably and sleeps little, everyday life can become a burden for parents. In a special consultation hour at Vivantes Kaulsdorf Hospital, Leonore Schicktanz offers advice for parents with restless babies.

Crying is the language of babies

The birth of a child entails a wealth of changes, and parents often feel helpless and exhausted when babies cannot be calmed in the first weeks and months, cry for long periods and sleep little. Babies cry not only because they have needs ("need crying"), but also because they are remembering and processing what they have experienced so far: prenatal, birth, and their postpartum experiences ("memory crying").

"When babies cry a lot and inconsolably, sleep little, and are restless, they may be processing their first life experiences. Just like with us adults, stress, fear and pain trigger intense emotions," says Leonore Schicktanz. She holds a degree in social pedagogy, is a pre- and perinatal body therapist, baby helper, parenting course instructor, baby massage instructor and is herself a mother of three children. Crying is the language of babies. Children then need parents who listen and comfort them, explains Leonore Schicktanz: "Since babies can perceive very sensitively with all their senses, they also understand the compassionate words of their parents. They then feel understood, react with relief and feel 'comforted'."

Misconceptions about baby crying

Unfortunately, two misconceptions are still prevalent about baby crying, namely 1.) that it is a bad or bad thing when babies cry and it must be made to go away and 2.) that parents have done something wrong. But by crying the baby (also the child or the adult) can relieve himself emotionally and therefore crying is a process of healing. If parents know this – and do not feel bad or incapable because they think that they have paid too little attention to their baby's needs – then they can be much safer and more understanding for their baby and accompany it empathetically when it cries.

Consultation hour for restless babies

The prerequisite is that any physical causes have been clarified and treated by the pediatrician as well as possible blockages by appropriately trained osteopaths. Help for crying babies is offered, for example, by crying baby outpatient clinics or parent-infant therapies. In the Clinic for Obstetrics at Vivantes Kaulsdorf Hospital, parents can find advice in the "Consultation hour for restless babies": using gentle, body-oriented methods, parents are supported with their baby in making the causes of the states of tension visible, so that they can be integrated to enable a secure bond between mother and child. The parents are also supported in rediscovering their own strengths and resources in order to be able to relax more.

Although there is a definition of a "restless/ crying baby" (a baby who cries for more than three hours a day on at least three days a week for more than three weeks for unexplained reasons and who can hardly be calmed down), the decisive factor is how parents feel about it themselves.

What can parents do before they lose patience?

Baby crying can be infuriating and lead to despair and exhaustion. This makes it all the more important to talk about it and get help or counseling.

However, if you should:

  • be at the end of your rope
  • notice that you are losing patience,

then:

  • put your baby on his or her back in a safe place.
  • leave the room for a short time. Your baby will probably continue to cry, but for a short time it will not harm him.
  • try to collect yourself.
  • breathe in and out calmly: "belly breathing."
  • take a drink.
  • get some help.
  • go back to your baby.
  • hold your baby lovingly and tightly and talk to it.
  • turn to, for example: Offers of help, professional support.

What happens if I shake my baby?

An infant still has little control over its head due to its weak neck muscles. In addition, a newborn's head is very large and heavy compared to the torso. Shaking can cause permanent damage to your baby's brain. Brain hemorrhages can occur. If cells in the brain are injured, breathing may stop.

 

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