6 Baby Crying Reasons You Should Never Ignore – A Life and Death Story
Never ignore baby crying
“If I had given him just ONE bottle, he would still be alive.” With this powerful statement, Jillian Johnson shared her story about her son’s (Landon) death to accidental starvation at 19 days old on Fed Is Best. Her story proves that baby crying is never to be ignored.
5 years ago, Landon was born full-term weighing 3360 g or 7 lbs. 7 oz by emergency cesarean. He was returned to his mother 2.5 hours later, and was exclusively breastfed with excellent latch. Despite the apparent breastfeeding success, Jillian noticed something was wrong – Landon was crying ALL THE TIME, unless he was on the breast. Jillian asked the nurses and the lactation consultants if it is normal for newborns to cry this much, and she was told it was normal “cluster feeding” and not to worry about it.
64 hours later, Landon was discharged and have lost 9.7% of his birth weight. Landon continued to continuously breastfeed at home, and cried whenever he was not on the breast. 12 hours later, he has gone into cardiac arrest caused by dehydration. After 30 minutes of CPR and IV saline treatment, Landon was transferred to a level II NICU – he was diagnosed with hypernatremic dehydration and cardiac arrest from hypoglycemic shock, resulting in a wide-spread brain injury. Given his poor prognosis, he was taken off life support 15 days later.
The constant cries turned out to be Landon’s final cries for help, for survival.
Baby crying: Is it normal?
Babies cry. I wish they don’t, but they do. But did you know that newborns aren’t supposed to cry ALL THE TIME? They are supposed to eat, sleep, and dirty their diapers. A crying baby is trying to tell you something. I remember when baby Kayden first came home from the hospital, he used to cry quite a bit – 2 to 3 hours a day. I couldn’t believe how his little lungs could make such loud cries. There were times when he would cry until he was out of breathe. As a new mom, I was extremely stressed out by his cries and didn’t know what to do. It is, however, our job as parents to figure out why your baby is crying and what you can do about it. In Jillian’s case, her lack of response to her baby’s cries has caused Landon’s life, resulting in a lifetime of regrets.
Decoding your baby’s cries
Babies cry for a lot of reasons, even though you might not understand all of them. I once read on a parenting site that to train your baby not to cry, you shouldn’t hold your baby when they are crying, and only attend to them when they are not crying. I am personally against this practice. I believe that crying is your baby’s ONLY way to communicate his/her needs to you. Crying is hard work, and there must be a reason when babies cry. To manage a crying a baby, the first step is to understand why babies cry. I’ve compiled 6 ways to help you decode why is your baby crying.
- Mom, I’m hungry!
Hunger is the number 1 reason why babies cry. Babies, especially newborns, have small stomach capacity. They need to be fed every 2-3 hours at most. Since food is the number 1 priority for babies, hunger cries are usually the loudest and you won’t be able to calm your baby no matter what you do. Babies usually give off hunger cues like turning their heads to the side and sucking their hands when they are hungry.If this is the case, the solution is pretty simple: feed your baby. One note on breastfeeding here: Although breast milk is considered the best food for babies and many new moms strive to exclusively breastfeed from day 1, it is important to know that your milk actually don’t come in until day 2-5 days after giving birth. In the meanwhile, you produce something called colostrum, which is a type of early, concentrated milk that is full of nutrients and disease-fighting antibodies. Many people say that your baby’s stomach is the size of a cherry at birth, so the small amounts of colostrum are perfect for your baby’s needs in the first few days in life. However, this is not the case for many babies, including mine. In fact, on day 1, your baby needs 2-10 mL per feeding, and 30 mL per 24 hours. This amount doubles in day 2, and doubles again in day 3. If your milk doesn’t come in soon enough, your baby is literally STARVING on the colostrum. So if your newborn is constantly crying and not producing enough wet diapers (like my son Kayden, and Lillian’s Landon), don’t ignore the crying, you MUST supplement with formula!
- Mom, I’m sleepy!
Babies need their naps, but often they find it hard to get to sleep on their own, especially if they are over-tired. If your baby is crying and is giving off sleepy cues such as staring blankly into space and going quiet all of a sudden, you know it’s time for a nap. I find that rocking him in my arms while walking around the house would put a sleepy Kayden to sleep within 5 minutes. If this fails, putting him in a bouncer with white noise in the background would usually do the job. I’ve read articles that are against rocking the baby to sleep, but since Kayden doesn’t seem to be able to put himself to sleep, I don’t see the reason why to just let him cry.
- Mom, I need my diaper changed!
Some babies may protest if their diaper is wet or soiled. Luckily Kayden is quite happy with a full diaper and probably enjoy the warm and comfortable feeling. If you baby is the former type, simply changing their nappy would calm a crying baby. Again, don’t ignore the crying, having a soiled diaper on for too long could result in horrible diaper rash!
- Mom, I’m too hot/cold!
The golden rule is to dress your baby with one more layer of clothing than you. Be careful not to overdress/underdress your baby, or he/she may become too hot/cold; which can lead to excessive crying. To determine if Kayden is comfortable, I place my hand on the back of his neck to feel if he is sweating or not. Do not go for your baby’s hands or feet for temperature testing as it is normal for them to feel cool.
- Ouch! My tummy hurts! (Colic)
During your baby’s early days, his/her digestive system is still very immature. For example, Kayden would cry after every feeding due to gas. These cries are different from any of the cries listed above. I can tell from his facial expression that he’s experiencing pain. To reduce the amount of gas in his stomach, I would give him a break in the middle of a feeding and burp him in between and after each feeding. To help him pass gas, I would lay Kayden down on a flat surface, massage his stomach in a clockwise motion, and do the bicycle leg exercise for 5 minutes. Click here for a baby massage and gas relief exercise video. Kayden usually farts during these exercises and would feel better afterwards. Also, sucking is a natural reflex that is comforting, soothing activity. If your baby isn’t hungry and is fussy, you might offer a pacifier or help your baby find his or her finger or thumb.
- Mom, I’m bored!
Babies have very short attention span. For Kayden, he usually gets entertained by colourful objects, bright lights, and music; but only for 5 minutes max. When he gets bored, he would cry for some mommy/daddy cuddling or a change of scenery.These cries are usually weaker and will usually subside when you hold your baby and/or provide some other form of entertainment. Walking around the house, singing kids friendly songs, and describing to them different objects is a good way to entertain your crying baby.
Routine helps to reducing baby crying
Every baby needs a daily routine. It is important to take some time to observe and figure it out as it gives you clues on why your baby is crying. For example, Kayden’s daily routine is eat, play, and sleep; and it repeats itself every 3 hours like clockwork. So if Kayden cries after waking up from a nap and it’s time for a feeding, I know I need to feed him to calm him down. After his feeding, if he cries, I know he needs to be held and entertained. And after his play time, if he cries, I know it’s time to rock him to sleep. Knowing this cycle has helped me tremendously in reducing guessing and his overall crying time. I know all babies are different, so take some time to understand you little one’s unique schedule~
If your baby cries constantly and you can’t seem to calm him/her down, don’t blame yourself. Check and make sure your baby’s immediate needs are met; if nothing works, give yourself a break. Put your baby in her cot and let him/her cry it out for a short period of time out of your range of hearing. Remind yourself that it is normal for babies to cry, and crying for a little while won’t hurt them. IF crying persists for a long time, however, seek medical help immediately as there might be underlying issues.
Remember, a less stressful baby equals a happier mommy. Have fun with experimenting with your little one and enjoy every moment of it (just don’t ignore the crying)!
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