From baby massage to white noise, there are plenty of tricks to dry your baby's tears
Crying – it may not sound great, but it’s your newborn’s only way of communicating.
And after all that time being fed and kept warm, your baby is out in the world and suddenly has to (quite literally) shout to have his needs met.
‘In the first six weeks, your baby may cry a lot,’ says psychologist Dr Penelope Leach. ‘This can be down to hunger, needing a nappy change or simply because he hasn’t yet become used to the world and feels vulnerable.’
The first step is recognising your baby’s crying habits, then you’ll soon be able to soothe them quicker.
Understand your baby’s movements and you may be able to stop your baby’s cries before he becomes inconsolable. When your baby’s hungry, he will root – moving his head around to look for your nipple.
Sucking his fingers and poking his tongue out are also signs of rooting, so try giving a feed. If your baby isn’t hungry, see if his nappy needs a change.
All clear? He may just want a cuddle.
Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to stop crying, as it makes your baby feel secure.
Nothing comforting him? Check to see if he’s raising his legs up to his chest. If he is, he may have wind or colic, so speak to your health visitor or GP.
Massage your baby
Massage is a great way to soothe your baby, plus it encourages bonding and may help him sleep better.
After a bath, lay your baby on his tummy on a towel. Gently rub baby moisturiser or sweet almond oil into his shoulders, back, bottom and legs in smooth, circular movements. Turn him over and massage his front.
Pat his bottom
Unborn babies are comforted by the sound of your heartbeat, which is why newborns love snuggling against your chest. Replicating this rhythm with gentle pats on the back or bottom, done in time with your own heart, will help a newborn feel secure.
Create some noise
Babies love white noise, such as a hairdryer on a gentle setting or the washing machine, because it reminds them of the womb.
‘It’s noisy inside your body,’ says Professor Mary Steen, a midwife from the University of Chester. ‘Your blood makes whooshing sounds, amniotic fluid swishes and your digestion gurgles.’
Research shows that babies are calmed by sounds they heard in the womb, too, so play favourite songs from your pregnancy.
Baby-proof your surroundings
The area in the brain responsible for detecting danger is fully functional from birth, so a dog barking or a raised voice will be enough to make a newborn cry. If you can, block sound from coming into your home with heavy curtains and draft excluders.
Very young babies also tend to cry when they’re being changed, because they feel exposed, so keep his top half covered as you go.
Buy a sling
Some babies won’t calm down unless they’re being held, which can be a problem when you’ve got things to do. One way to get around this is to carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier.
‘Being in a sling replicates the feeling of being back in your tummy,’ says Mary. ‘They’re curled up against your warm body, being rocked and moved as you walk along, just like when they were inside you. He’ll calm down in no time.'