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Why Is My Baby Crying?

Feed Me, Feed Me!

Babyproofing

Before you offer your baby a finger to suck on, be sure to turn the finger up. That way, your fingernail won't scratch the roof of his mouth.

If your baby is crying because he's hungry, then by all means you should feed him. Don't worry that feeding him "early" might throw him (or you) off-schedule. Your baby is likely to change his feeding schedule from day to day. When he's going through a growth spurt, for example, or when he's learning and quickly mastering a new skill, your baby will probably want to eat more often (and sleep more, too).

Try to feed your baby as soon as he starts to cry. If your baby tires himself out with crying, he may not have the strength to eat enough by the time you decide to feed him. A half an hour or an hour later, he'll start crying for more food and start the cycle all over again.

If your baby is truly hungry, merely sucking on something will not calm him. He needs breast milk or formula. But if your baby is full and apparently still wants to suck, let him. Babies find the simple act of sucking-apart from its value in feeding-remarkably soothing. When your baby is upset, sucking may calm him and eventually even lull him to sleep. So if you're sure your baby has eaten enough, offer him a bottle of water. Or wash your hands and offer him the top third of your pinkie finger to suck on. You'll be surprised how strong your baby sucks.

At three or four months, when your baby develops better hand-eye coordination, you can try to guide his thumb to his mouth for sucking comfort. (Though orthodontists might object to this strategy-especially if thumb-sucking continues beyond age three-a selfsoothing baby is a blessing to his parents.)

Pacifier Pros and Cons

If all else fails, try a pacifier. Pacifiers have a remarkably soothing effect on many babies. If your baby sleeps with a pacifier in her mouth, she may just start sucking when something disturbs her sleep. Indeed, she might not even wake up-and wake you up. Finally, if your baby uses a pacifier, she will probably not develop a thumb-sucking habit.

Yet pacifiers do have their drawbacks. If your baby uses hers regularly-not just for soothing, but as a routine habit-she will be unable to explore the world with her mouth when she gets a little older (one of the primary ways young babies learn).

In addition, your baby-and you-may come to rely on the pacifier too heavily as a soother. If, for example, your baby needs her pacifier to get to sleep, you will have to find it for her whenever she wakes up in the night and can't find it. You also might be tempted to use it as a cure-all instead of getting to know your baby's changing needs. Finally, like any habit, it may take years of effort to get your baby to stop using it once she has started.

If You Do Use Pacifiers...

Here are some tips for parents who use pacifiers:

  • Wash and sterilize them often by putting them in boiling water for five minutes.
  • Avoid automatically using the pacifier whenever your baby starts to cry. Consider it the soother of last resort.
  • Unless your baby is particularly fretful, try using them only at night.
  • Scatter several pacifiers around your baby's crib at night to give her a better chance of finding one when she needs it.
  • Consider trying to break the habit at about six months-before she is old enough to remember it (and therefore miss it) for very long.


More on: Babies

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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