What can I do?

Could they be hungry or thirsty?

When your baby cries, the first thing you may think is that they’re hungry or thirsty. Young babies also feed for comfort, often want to feed more in the evening or if they’re going through a growth spurt. Signs your baby is hungry might include:

  • Turning their head to the side with open mouth 
  • Licking lips 
  • Sticking tongue in/out 
  • Clenching hands over chest and fingers/hands to mouth 
  • Fussing, squirming and makes squeaky noises

So if it’s been a couple of hours since their last feed, or it’s quite hot, offer milk or some cooled boiled water in the usual way.

Do they need a nap?

Spotting tired signs early can help stop a young baby getting overtired and upset. Watch for:

  • Yawning
  • Jerky movements
  • Clenched fists
  • Fussing and grizzling
  • Eye rubbing
  • Losing interest in a toy
  • Vacant stare

Do they need quiet time?

It’s easy for young babies to become overstimulated, especially if you’re out and about with them a lot. Even at home newborns can become overstimulated through the combination of household noises, lighting, people and smells all bombarding their senses at once. Sometimes you’ll need to take them into a quieter more dimly-lit space if they’re not feeding well or becoming upset or irritated. Try and get any outings, visitors or jobs done in the morning when both of you are fresher – and so you both can have a quieter afternoon together

Are they too hot – or too cold?

  • Babies aren’t as good as we are at staying at the right temperature. They might cry if they get too hot or cold.
  • Check if their face is red or if their skin feels warm or sweaty to touch. If you have a thermometer check their temperature is between 36 and 37 degrees. If you think they’re too warm try taking off a layer of clothing or a blanket – or even taking them outside if it’s cooler. If you think they might be cold, cuddle them in a blanket, then put on another layer of clothing.
  • A lot of body heat is lost through our heads so putting a hat on can help them keep warm. Check the room temperature.

Do they need to burp?

Trapped wind can be really painful for baby and cause them to become overly upset. If they’ve just had a feed, try burping them again gently. You could also try the ‘colic hold” which can help for calming an upset baby.

Have you checked their nappy?

All babies are different – some are particularly sensitive to a wet or soiled nappy, while others aren’t bothered. It always pays to check as staying in a soiled nappy for too long can cause painful nappy rash and that’s enough to have any baby crying.

Could they be sick?

If you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying, they might be sick – ring Plunketline 0800 933 922 or your doctor for some advice.

Is anything unfamiliar in the environment?

  • What’s going on around them? Is there anything different? Unusually loud music from next door? Or someone they’re not used to is visiting? You might need to take them away for some quiet time.
  • For a new baby, different voices, music or television playing can all play a part in stimulating a young baby making it hard for them to settle.
  • Trying to calm a young baby by passing them from person to person can add to their distress when all they might need is to be close to those who are most familiar to them

Try getting outside.

A walk in the fresh air in a front pack or buggy can calm both of you down. The rhythm of the journey might even get them off to sleep if overtiredness is the problem.

Take a break if you need to.

When your baby cries a lot it can be stressful. And if babies pick up on your growing tension it can upset them more. If you’re getting really wound up:

  • Put baby somewhere safe (like the cot).
  • Go into another room or outside.
  • Breathe deeply for at least one minute to help get yourself under control.
  • Do two minutes of physical activity, running on the spot, star jumps, press ups anything that gets your heart pumping and oxygen flowing through your blood. 
  • Go back in when you are calm.

Tried everything and won't stop?

All babies cry sometimes, and often you won’t know why. But if you’re out of options, you’ve taken a break and they’re still crying, you’ll need to get help –ring a mate or relative for some help or Plunketline 0900 933 922.

Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.

Need back-up? Family members might be willing to help but not sure what to do. . Be specific – “could you please bath/feed change/dress baby”

Feeling like a bad parent? Look around and check is there anything that could be dangerous to the kids? If not, relax – you’re doing OK!

Feel like you’re always on the go? Your kids are the most important thing - and they’re only young once. Think about what absolutely must be done now and what can wait.

Worried what others think of your parenting? What your kids think of you is what really matters! If you focus on them, you’re already doing a great job.

Feeling down? Talking with someone you trust can be the first step to finding help. Working out whether your feelings are temporary or more lasting is important. Depressed? Writing down your feelings in a daily diary will help you monitor whether it’s getting better or worse. This will also help you explain better if you go to your doctor.

Sick of yelling? Try singing your frustration instead. If you hop or jump at the same time, everyone gets the giggles — another great tension buster!

Feeling yuk? If no-one else can help with the kids, grab a pillow and blanket - set up camp in your lounge until you start to feel better

Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?

Stress over unpaid bills? Have a banking setup that automatically takes money out for your main bills first. Then you know what you have left to survive on.

Determined to stay calm?

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Putting it all together

SKIP’s approach is based on six things which children need from parents to help them grow into happy, capable adults.

Tell me more

  • Love & warmth

  • Talking & listening

  • Guidance & understanding

  • A structured & secure world

  • Consistency & consequences

  • Limits & boundaries