Is it colic? Is he allergic to something in my milk? What is happening?!
You have tried it all. Breastfeeding, rocking, pacing the halls, passing him back and forth, crying yourself, sitting, standing, tearing your hair out, and he is still crying! What is a mum to do? Us mothers have one fundamental question, “is my baby normal?” Is it normal for my baby to be cranky, to breastfeed constantly, to only sleep when I’m carrying him? etc. etc. etc…..and the reality is, yes! It is normal for your baby to be cranky at times for no apparent reason. Does that make you feel better or worse? 🙂 I remember my mum calling the hours in the later afternoon the “witching hour.” You know that time when you have your baby on your hip or in a sling while trying to make dinner, sweep up all the crumbs off the floor, put that last load of laundry on and try to get one piece of food in your mouth before you starve to death?
Before I had children I had all of these ideas as to what parenthood would be like. Remember before you had children? That distant past that seems blurry now due to your sleep deprivation? Remember looking at those other parents as a young twenty year old thinking, “wow, when I’m a parent I will NEVER do that! How horrible!” and now you find yourself doing that same exact thing….this is what happens! No one imagines themselves looking at their baby thinking, “why are you so cranky?! I’m a horrible mother, I can’t even settle my own baby!” Yet, these are thoughts we all have from time to time. And it’s normal.
Every month when I have my Boobies By the Beach group meet up (a breastfeeding group for mums to get together and chat about all things breastfeeding) almost every time there will be this wonderful moment when one mum will hear another mum’s story and say, “my baby does that too! Oh good, it’s normal!” This is especially important for issues regarding normal breastfeeding behaviour, sleep and cranky babies. Hearing that someone else has a baby that does the same thing as your baby creates an instant feeling of relief.
From my own experiences (and talking with many mums over the past nine years since having my first born, very high needs cranky baby) I have learned a thing or two about crankiness….there is light at the end of this long dark cranky tunnel! One of my friends coined the term, “the circuit” as a way to describe what she did when her babies were upset. The idea is that you keep going through the list until, voila! The baby will stop crying! You will then fall into a heap on the couch and cry yourself to sleep from happiness that your baby is finally content.
1. Breastfeed your baby. I can’t tell you how many times this one will work! Babies breastfeed for many different reasons besides hunger. One of them being comfort. This is always my “go to” step. To read more about comfort feeding CLICK HERE.
2. Carry your baby. On your hip, in a sling, hanging like a star fish in a Baby Bjorn. However you want to do it! Just carry them. Many babies like to breastfeed while being walked around in a sling. One of my friends had to breastfeed her baby while walking. ALL THE TIME. It’s amazing her legs didn’t fall off. Come to think of it, she looks extremely fit and healthy and this must be the reason why. It’s a great way to get some exercise!
2. Swaddle your baby. Now this is a popular one which many people will suggest. Just so you know, two out of three of my babies HATED being a burrito. So not every baby will like it.
3. Pass your baby onto your husband, partner, friend, neighbour, random stranger in the park (just kidding!) so you can get a break. You will feel better knowing that although they are crying, at least they are being held.
4. Go for a walk outside with your baby. Sometimes just a change in scenery is enough.
5. Get into the bath with your baby. You can also try breastfeeding in the bath. Some babies love it.
6. Back to step one!
and around and around it goes until eventually one of these steps will work! Of course if one of these just isn’t feeling right for you or your baby then skip it. Also, add whatever else you can think of to the list and please add to the comments below so we can all share what has worked for us.
Even after having my third baby (who is now just six months old) I still think, “but I just breastfed you five minutes ago!” before putting them back on. Yet I know that often babies will do this. They will pull off, get cranky, want to be walked around and then five minutes later get back on the breast and fall asleep happily. What is the deal!? Well, they have a biological need to be with their mums and breastfeed. ALOT. I think it’s helpful to know that it’s normal, and you’ll get through this long dark cranky tunnel.
*About half way through this blog post my little baby woke up after a tiny mini half hour nap (oh those dreaded nano naps!), I picked him up, took off his nappy and before I knew it he was peeing all over me. I then had to strap him to my back and finish typing this while standing. So I guess not being able to finish a post without the baby waking up, wanting to be held and peeing on me is normal as well….*
For more information on how to tell your baby is getting enough milk and is not cranky because they are hungry, visit this page for my post on Milk Supply
For more information on getting baby to nap longer, head over to my post on naps – Nap Time
*Some babies get cranky for serious reasons including; an allergy to something you are eating which is going through your milk, reflux and other various medical conditions or breastfeeding issues. Trust your instincts. If you feel as though there is something serious going on then please contact me via email or phone or contact your GP.*
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