Babies cry, it's what they do, it's their job, they are so good at it, they cry to get their needs met, be it food, toilet, comfort, gas or just wanting to be held tight to feel safe. Sometimes babies cry cos they are having a rubbish day, I can understand that! There is a concept called the 5 cries of a newborn that claims to expose the different sounding cries of a baby to help you distinguish their needs, it must be true as it was on Oprah! Being brutal, I tried this a few times, me and my husband would look at each other with question marks floating above our heads. Having said that, when you have a crying baby you will try ANYTHING and it's worth checking out, you have nothing to loose!
I found there was a check list when Reno was newborn and crying: boob, nappy, burp, boob, rock, sing, boob, nappy, boob
I had an ethos that a lot of lactation consultants adhere to which is "whenever your baby cries offer the boob" I liked that and followed it, my kids never took a dummy/pacifier, which I sometimes wished they had. I reckon too if I had bottle fed from birth I would have shoved a bottle in their mouth instead of the boob too!
But sometimes, babies still just cry and I totally get it, and it's the most helpless feeling in the universe when your baby just won't stop. But something I learnt was that before the age of 3 months, one of the best ways to keep my baby calm and therefore crying less and sleeping more was to keep him on me 24/7. Now, this doesn't suit everyone, nor am I preaching to tell you this is the ONLY way because it is not, but it is ONE way that worked for me and I will explain why.
It's very simple, when a baby is first born it has no concept of ME or I, it doesn't really know if it's day or light or dinner or breakfast, what it does know is it's been listening to your heart beat for 9 months solid, and suddenly it is not, so that gentle hum that has been there fore 24/7 has gone. Are you surprised they cry until you hold them tight in a way that they know you are not going to put them back down again a few moments later.
I remember a friend of mine who had a baby close to me and after he was born she called me up in tears wondering why her baby would not settle when she put him down. I quietly comforted her and reminded her that for 3 months following the birth it may as well be like her baby is still inside her. She was initially slightly shocked and I think offended as it went against what she thought her baby should do, "won't I spoil him" she said... But, I encouraged her to put the baby in the sling rather than in the stroller trying to force her baby to sooth himself, she soothed HIM and it worked!
It was SO simple, but often goes against so much of what we are told... I was very clearly advised when Reno was born: "put him down" "don't hold him all the time" "you'll spoil him" "he is playing you, he knows how to get what he wants"
These quotes disturbed me a lot as I was having a conflict inside, 'am I spoiling him? Is that even possible at 2 weeks old?!' So my Husband and I chatted and we came to the conclusion that there was no way in hell a new born baby could be spoiled. My husband said, verbatim; "babe, have you ever heard of an adult who complained they were loved and hugged too much by having their needs met as a kid?" To be honest, I had no answer to that, it rang truth to me too.
Our grand parents generation were raised just trying to get basic needs met like having enough to eat, moving post WW2 to safety and finding refuge and sanctuary. They didn't have time to think about their babies emotions the way our generation does. We, on the other hand are equipped, most of us to cater to our babies needs in the physical sense, be it food, clothing, housing etc... so now we are focusing more on their emotional and mental wellbeing and development. With this in mind, the idea of leaving our baby to 'cry it out' didn't feel right to us. So I held him. I held him all bloody day and all bloody night. But it worked, he didn't cry, his needs were met.
I am not for one minute suggesting that holding your baby 24/7 is possible or convenient and ALL mothers need a break, some go to work before 3 months, but it sure did help us in nurturing a calmer baby and now child. I got a really comfy sling and just kept him in there for at least the first 8 weeks. It was only towards the end of the first 3 months it got heavy and annoying, prior to this he was still small and cuddly. I decided that the time goes so fast who cares if I have him strapped to me all day and night, he won't even remember but I will, and I do, I remember so fondly how relaxed he was and how sweet he was snuggled up to my chest all the time. I just sniffed his head. mmmmmm
After the 3 months, I noticed a massive shift in his energy, he woke up. He was no longer a sleepy baby trying to recreate the womb all curled up. His limbs were stretched out, he reacted and smiled and understood communication in it's most primitive forms. So... I put him down and instead of him crying he was happy as anything. I truly believe that going to him every time he initially cried trying to sooth him made him learn to trust me and to trust life. His needs were met, he didn't have to resort to self soothing and believing that his tears wouldn't be addressed. Now he is 2 years old he is so confident and trusting and happy and when we leave him as a toddler to 'cry it out' at bed times it comes from a VERY different place. he gets it completely. We go in and remind him we love him but with a gentle but firm tone tell him it's still bedtime and not play time and it works. USUALLY!?....
I now TOTALLY trust myself and this way of being with my new born Eden and everyone who meets him says "wow, he is so chilled" " you got lucky" "does he ever cry?" I just smile politely, but I know that although it looks effortless to hold your baby all the time and have him calmly hanging out on you, it's bloody hard work, but 100% worth it and pays off!
Our 4th trimester came to a close 6 weeks ago now and Eden happily sleeps in his crib on him own and fingers crossed he is doing really well, unless I just jinxed myself by writing this article!... ce la vie ;)
PS: disclaimer & apologies to any mothers who have done this method from birth and their babies STILL cry...