Infant crying: what is normal?!
Every infant cries! Most infants follow a universal crying pattern during the first few months of life. Nevertheless, it can be stressful and confusing as you get to know what works for your baby.
What's normal? Crying progressively increases after birth and peaks at 6 weeks of age with a tendency for peak crying to occur in the evening. Crying typically declines around 3 months of age.
However, non-Western infants cry less compared with Western infants. The literature suggests that early infancy crying pattern is normal, but the environment of infant care influences other aspects of crying, such as the amount of crying (exception: colicky babies!). There are many needs that trigger crying, including hunger, thirst, extremes of temperature, and the desire for caregiver contact.
You can use the acronym REST as a reminder for how to engage with a crying infant:
R=Regulation, read your infant's cues. I'll be posting more on how to read infant cues, but in the meantime, if you're unsure of what cues mean what, send me a message.
E=Entrainment, synchronize infant behavior with the environment by adjusting light and noise. Overstimulation can lead to excessive crying, especially in the evening.
S= Structure, follow a routine, not a schedule.
T=Touch, soothe your baby with infant massage or by holding, carrying, or rocking! Skin to skin works pretty well, too. Skin to skin in the bath is maybe as close as your baby can get to the womb; it works pretty well for most infants.
REST is for parents too!
R=Reassurance, you're not alone! It takes time to understand your baby's cues and figure out what they are trying to communicate. Your child will have a unique set of interventions she needs to soothe. You will figure them out, I promise.
E=Empathy, while it's normal to feel overwhelmed by infant crying I know it's not easy. I spent many evenings and nights walking the neighborhood bouncing my crying baby to no avail. Again, you're not alone or failing.
S=Support from a healthcare provider, family, or significant other. Reach out for help! There are so many options for new parents. Send me a message for more info.
T=Time out for rest and renewal. Take space for yourself to protect your own mental health.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, send me a message!