Don’t worry, you’re not the only one…
My daughter Brianna was a screamer. In contrast to her sister, she cried during the first nine months of her life. She screamed when she was bored, when she was tired when she was wet, and when she was hungry. It wouldn’t take her more than 5 seconds to change from a sweet cherub to a hot mess. Worst of all, she cried every time I laid her down to sleep. So I started to wonder is it normal that a baby cries when put down?
She would flail her arms, arch her back, and her face would turn red. I tried my best to soothe her with hugs, diaper changes, and nursing – all to no avail. Result? I would end up in tears too. The feelings of being overwhelmed consumed me, and worse, I thought I was failing at the fundamental task of mothering – the ability to make my child comfortable.
Why is my baby crying when put down to sleep?
For new parents, identifying what the crying indicates may be frustrating, challenging, and downright scary. If they are not able to pinpoint the reason immediately, they get frightened up to the point that they start to think that their baby isn’t physically fit. The parents feel powerless due to their inconsolable little ones. This may be quite distressful for women who felt in control and competent in their pre-mom life. The good news is: you’ll eventually get better at responding and interpreting the cries of your baby. Until then, act on the tips below to ensure that your baby remains calm because, certainly, a baby cries when put down.
What to do when your baby is screaming when put down
Teach your baby to fall asleep on their own!
This is SO important. Most babies cry and scream because they are used to mom/dad helping them to sleep. It becomes more difficult for them to fall asleep because they have become so reliant on that assistance to sleep. They simply cannot fall asleep without lots of rocking, holding, feeding to sleep. Over time they will require more and more help, which means more screaming and crying. Teaching your baby to fall asleep on her own is key! For more details on how to do this, here’s my blog post teaching baby to self soothe.
Turn the tunes up
Don’t limit yourself to lullabies. Try all different songs and genres, including what you love.
This works because, similar to movement, music has the ability to calm the nervous system, decreasing the respiratory and heart rate of a baby.
Play it back
When my children were babies, I would usually record them crying and fussing on the phone and let them listen to it later. I thought the sound of a crying baby really fascinated them.
This works because, sometimes, babies get so distressed that it becomes very difficult to calm them, even after the offending agent like a dirty diaper is taken care of. They are literally stuck in an endless cycle of crying. However, a surprising distraction like a voice recording of themselves may jolt the babies out of what was initially upsetting them.
Do the Shush-Bounce
Rock your munchkin in your arms and repeatedly shush in her ear. I used to put my little one in a sling and bounced her all over the house, yard, and on a walk in the neighborhood. I cleaned and cooked while swinging her back and forth as well.
This works because a calming response is triggered in the brain of an infant when being rocked or carried, causing the muscles to become more relaxed and the heart rate of a baby to slow.
Change the scenery
I used to sense when my fussy baby was under stress. That’s why I realized it was time to hand her off to grandma or daddy. If she couldn’t change caregivers, she would move to a different environment. Going from the nursery to the kitchen or patio was sometimes enough to snap her out of the crying spell.
This works because a new location to focus on maybe everything that a baby needs to transform her mood.
Make some noise
This is another trick that works very well to calm down crying, turn on the white noise. Try a vacuum cleaner or a fan, download an application or use a white-noise machine.
This works because sounds such as these imitate what an infant hears when it’s in the womb as the blood of mom passes through the placenta.
Put out lights
When my baby would get overstimulated, I used to put her in a completely dark room. It was the most effective way to calm her. Often, I’d put the blackout shades down and put her in the swing just to calm down a bit, along with a pacifier. The swing offers a sensation of rocking in our arms, enabling them to relax, calm and stop crying.
This is because it’s very easy to overstimulate babies with all the lights and noise of everyday life. After all, newborns are used to the dark, quiet confines of the womb. If you block out all of the stimulation, they should be able to relax.