Barhite: Sometimes parents need a mental timeoutWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
A crying child can be frustrating. It doesn’t matter if you are a new parent or a longtime parent, inconsolable crying can take a toll on a person’s patience.
But there are ways to calm the baby – and yourself, said Melinda Olmstead, childbirth educator for ProMedica. If nothing works, “put the baby in a safe place like a crib and walk away,” she said.
Try to remember that babies communicate through tears, she said. That is their way of telling us that they need something. They aren’t trying to make you angry or ruin your day. They are probably too hot, too cold, hungry, have a dirty diaper or just feel generally uncomfortable, she said.
Olmstead teaches Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby method for baby sleep and soothing in her Preparation for Parenthood classes.
- Swaddle: Wrap the crying baby, arms at the side, in a thin blanket. This provides the continuous touching and support the baby enjoyed in the womb.
- Side or stomach position: Place infants on their side to help with digestion or on their stomach as a soothing mechanism.
- Shush: Make little shushing noises or provide some white noise to imitate what the baby heard in the womb. Olmstead said sometimes humming or turning on a vacuum can be calming as well.
- Swing: Use small jiggling motions as you hold the baby because (again) it was what the baby experienced in the womb. Sometimes rocking the baby facing outwardly will also serve as a distraction, Olmstead said. A car ride might also work.
- Suck: Give the baby a pacifier or your thumb because sucking can help relax and calm.
Olmstead said these five tips can be used alone or in any combination; however, nothing is guaranteed to work immediately. Crying can be a really trying thing for parents.
“It is normal to get frustrated; it is what you do with that,” she said. “You might need a parent timeout to gather yourself together.”
Olmstead said you don’t have to be new parent to take one of her classes. Sometimes people need a refresher or maybe they never took a class when they embarked upon parenthood. Go to http://www.promedica.org/preparationforparenthood to check out options.
ProMedica spokeswoman Serena Smith said if parents do lose their cool, stop and remember how quickly an injury can occur if a child is shaken.
If a parent does lose his or her temper and hurt the child, “call 911 right away,” Olmstead said. Before it comes to that, though, the best thing to do is let the child cry and walk away to get in a better state of mind, she said.