Featured in Infants & Toddlers
Crying is a form of communication among infants and toddlers. In young children, crying is often the only way for them to express their needs. Typically, crying is a response to discomfort, hunger and separation from their parents. It is a normal response to wanting something however, sometimes it can be excessive and parents need help dealing with their crying child.
Methods of Discipline
For many babies and toddlers crying will stop when their needs have been met, such as when they are changed, cuddled, fed or burped. Usually crying tends to decrease in frequency and length of time once the baby becomes three months old. However, there are many situations of this not happening and the crying continuing. How does a parent cope? What can they do for their child?
1. Crying is considered excessive when the crying continues beyond when the parent has attempted to satisfy the child’s needs or when the crying last longer than what is considered normal for that specific child. In many cases, there is no medical disorder that can be considered responsible for making a child cry excessively but it is advisable to check in with your family physician.
2. An issue around sleep can exacerbate crying. Lack of sleep (fatigue) can cause an infant or toddler to cry excessively. Crying at night might be due to the child facing difficulty in getting back to sleep. Consider undergoing some sleep training with your infant or toddler to help with this issue.
3. Fears surrounding night time, such as fear of the dark, night terrors etc can also cause a child to cry excessively. For this type of excessive crying, parents should do their best to come up with a plan to help the child deal with the nighttime fear. Some ideas may include using a nightlight, playing soothing music, providing a security item (such as teddy bear or blanket) or even seeking help from a sleep consultant.
4. Colic has been defined as excessive crying without an identifiable cause. Dealing with colic in your infant can be very difficult for parents and other caregivers. It can mean sleepless nights and very frustrating days. Some strategies for dealing with colic can include: continuing to look for the obvious causes for the crying, gently rocking or swaying your baby, playing white noise in the nursery, driving the baby around, swaddling your baby, ensuring your baby is burped after feeding and feeding the baby. It is common for these interventions to only briefly console your child but sometimes that is enough to help the parent get through the day and night.
5. Whether it is your baby or toddler who is crying, try talking to him or her in a soothing voice. Even if the child is not old enough to understand your words, just the sound of your calm and relaxed voice may stop the crying.
Helping your child cope
Dealing with a colicky baby can be mentally and physically draining for a parent. One tip for dealing with colic is to ask for help. Ask friends and family for a break in the evenings or on the weekends. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to your support system and asking for a break. During the break have a nap, go out for a meal or just do something “normal”. For some parents, it may be a better break to leave the house instead of being in a different room so that they aren’t tempted to go in and try to soothe the baby. If you don’t have a support system available, perhaps you can spare a bit of money and hire a nurse or a personal support worker for a few hours a week. Typically personal support workers are less expensive than nurses and will be able to help with what the parent needs. If this is not possible, reach out to public organizations in your local community. There is bound to be something close to you that can help you deal with your crying child.