From the moment they are born, babies experience a wide range of emotions, which they are unable to control. The only way they can convey stress is through fussing and crying. This can be upsetting for parents who can’t work out what is wrong with their upset infant. It’s important to remember that babies get stressed for a range of reasons, and in most cases they can easily be comforted.
Stay calm. It can be upsetting to see your baby getting stressed, but the more relaxed you are, the easier it will be to soothe him. Remind yourself that there may be a simple explanation for your baby’s stress. Consider whether he might be hungry, tired or overstimulated, or need a diaper change. Check that he’s not too hot or too cold.
Be aware of situations and places that may be causing your baby stress. For example, she may cry and become fussy after a long car journey. Try to keep trips to a minimum until she becomes more comfortable spending time in the car. If she gets cranky during visits to the supermarket, try to keep them short, or arrange a babysitter to look after her while you go on your own. She may get upset when too many people are around her. If this is the case, keep visitors to a minimum until she’s a little older.
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Try to create the womb environment to soothe your baby if he appears to be stressed for no reason. Wrap him securely in a blanket and hold him close. Run the vacuum cleaner or hair dryer to create “white noise” to drown out other noises. Give him a pacifier to suck on. Cuddle, talk to him and make eye contact with him as much as possible to make him feel safe. Even a young baby who doesn’t understand what you are saying will be reassured by the sound of your voice.
Pay attention to your own mental and emotional health. If you are anxious, stressed or depressed, you may not be able to meet your baby’s needs in the most appropriate way. Talk to your partner, a relative or close friend about how you are feeling. Make time for yourself to relax and catch up on your sleep. Look after yourself by eating a balanced diet, drinking lots of water and taking regular exercise.
Remember that your baby is a unique individual, and you are too. Get to know your infant’s signals to help you work out how to calm her down. In time, you will be able to work out why she is stressed and what she needs to feel better. She will pick up on how responsive you are and be reassured by your attention.