Crying Baby

The Supernanny website’s checklist helps you find out what’s wrong with your baby and gives some tried and tested ways to quieten him down.

When your baby cries…

Like many things about your new baby, there are no set rules on how much or how little a newborn should cry. Until he learns to soothe himself or find other ways of expressing himself, crying is the only method of communication he has with you. Still, this doesn’t mean it can’t be wearisome to an exhausted new parent…

Supernanny’s checklist helps you find out what’s wrong with your baby and gives some tried and tested ways to quiet him down.

Checklist for a crying baby

  • Is your baby hungry? Try offering a breast feed or bottle feed. Most babies will feed on demand in the first few weeks, but follow his lead and you will soon be able to establish a routine.
  • Try not to feed your baby to sleep, but put him down just before he nods off. This way he’ll be able to get to sleep by himself in future.
  • If your baby is having trouble feeding from your breast, ask some advice from your midwife or contact a volunteer from La Leche League. If he is having trouble feeding from a bottle, try a different teat or brand of formula feed.
  • Does your baby have colic or has he overfed? There are many different positions new mums and dads will swear by to reduce the painful effects of wind and colic. In the first instance, try gently massaging your baby’s tummy, move him to a different feeding position or put him in a sling so you can both move around a little.
  • Is your baby tired? If your baby has been over-stimulated, he might be finding it difficult to sleep. He might be rubbing his eyes or waking up suddenly. Take a good look at your environment and see what you could change about it; if it’s too noisy, try a different room; if it’s too dark, try putting a low light on, and so on.
  • Your baby may react well to a routine, and you should keep visitors and stimulus to a minimum around bedtime, so he can anticipate when it’s time to sleep.
  • A rhythmic movement should help your baby get to sleep, but try to put him down just before he nods off, as this will help him get to sleep by himself.
  • Does your baby have a wet or soiled nappy? Change him, checking that his nappy isn’t on too tight, isn’t twisted and that his clothes aren’t too restrictive. Check for nappy rash or eczema.
  • Is your baby too hot or too cold? Health visitors advise that you check your baby’s temperature on his tummy. Layers of thin clothing and covers are often better to maintain a constant body heat than big fleeces or heavy blankets.
  • Is your baby still crying? If you feel like you’ve tried everything to help your baby stop crying, or if the persistent crying is really getting on top of you, seek advice from your midwife, health visitor or another voluntary organisation (see resources below). Sometimes you just need a break, so see if your partner or a friend can take him for a couple of hours.

Related links

Bedtime Routine: As seen on the show, the Bedtime Routine ensures your child gets enough sleep, while you get time to yourself.

Controlled Crying: As used on Supernanny, this technique helps you tell a cry for attention from a distress cry, and gives you the tools to gradually make your baby less dependent on you at night time.

When a new baby breaks your routine: When a couple become parents their lifestyle is turned upside down. In this article, Paula Hall describes what can be done to ensure the bond isn’t broken by the new arrival.

Find out more

The National Childbirth Trust is a charity with plenty of experience in the demands of newborns.

Cry-sis is an organisation which supports new parents dealing with babies who cry a lot. Call them on 08451 228 669.

La Leche League is a voluntary organisation offering help and advice on breastfeeding

Teach your Child to Sleep by the Millpond Sleep Clinic (also see Getting bedtime back on track) offers a holistic approach to night time crying from newborns (to older children).

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp offers advice for parents of crying newborns based on 'the 5 S's - swaddling, side (or stomach) position, shhhhh, swinging and sucking'

Understanding Your Crying Baby by Sheila Kitzinger aims to show parents of crying baby how they can follow their instinct, not just the book.

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