Friday, June 12, 2009

Advice to New Moms (or Dads) With a Crying Baby

Babies are each unique creatures and we can never know all that is going on with them. I’m no baby expert, but I’ve had four and none of mine were the easy, happy, eat-for-ten-minutes-and-sleep-for-three-hours kind of baby. I had one preemie with nursing issues, one high-needs, and two colicky (and the colic lasted for months).

Lots of things can go on with a baby unbeknownst to Mom, and the baby cries and Mom doesn’t know why. It is never wrong to comfort a crying baby, but it is also ok to put a crying baby down in a safe place when you need a few minutes to yourself.  Slings are a great way to soothe babies and still permit yourself some freedom. (I particularly like the Maya Wrap, myself.)

There are lots of things you just cannot know with a baby. You cannot truly know what the baby is feeling physically or emotionally. If you are nursing, you cannot really know how much the baby is getting to eat with each feeding (unless you are weighing the baby with a good scale before and after each feeding – lol). You cannot know how much your particular baby needs to eat, and it can be difficult to determine *what* your baby needs to eat (or shouldn’t eat). (If you’re nursing, foods you eat can cause colic in your baby, and it isn’t always the foods you’d expect–dairy and soy are big culprits, and soy is in just about everything. If you’re bottle-feeding, it can be well nigh impossible to find a formula that doesn’t cause discomfort for your baby if yours has a sensitive stomach.)

Do your best to try to find out what is causing the distress, but understand that you may never figure it out. Your job then is to comfort as best you can.  Pray, pray, pray, and seek out wise advice but don’t be bound by conventional wisdom or the strong opinions of others.
With babies #2 and #3, I had to eliminate dairy from my diet. It was challenging but I did it because they needed it. With baby #3, I probably should have eliminated more than dairy but I was too tired at that point to think it through that far so we just toughed out the colic until he outgrew it.  With baby #4, a wise mom gave me some diet advice and I ended up giving up almost all my normal food and eating a severely restricted diet for many months–but it was absolutely worth it because I had a happy, healthy baby as long as I ate properly. If I didn’t eat properly, I had a baby who screamed for hours at a time.

Whatever you have to do, you *can* do because God provides the strength for the challenges he puts in front of us. That doesn’t make it easy, but at least we have that hope. When these challenges are behind us, we’ll have new ones in front of us, but God helping us we’ll make it past those too.

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