Crying Baby: 7 Ways Couples Can Cope
Yet another sleepless night with your crying baby, and you don't know who to feel worse for: you or your baby. But how is it affecting your marriage? Here are some ways to help each other through these rough nights.
You know your crying baby is communicating with you -- but hearing it all through the day and night is no easy feat. And it can place a huge strain on your marriage. How do you get through the sleepless nights and busy days without losing your cool? Start by working together with your partner. "Taking care of each other, being a team and sharing responsibilities for your child will bring you closer," says Lyssa Armenta, a sleep expert and author of "Gentle Goodnight."
Sound too picture-perfect? Here are seven strategies for getting through the tears together:
- Tag Team Your Baby's Needs
You need to work together to succeed. Start by taking turns. Plan out the night in sections in which one of you is always "on call" (and the other can sleep with a pillow over her head!). Even if the baby seems hungry and you're exclusively breastfeeding, your partner can help by changing diapers, handing the baby to you to nurse, getting you a glass of water or just keeping you company, recommends Leigh Anne O'Connor, a certified lactation consultant and author of the blog Mama Milk and Me. Then, you hand the baby back and (try to) get more sleep, until it's your shift.
- Run Through Reasons for Crying
Make a mental list of all the things your crying baby could be trying to tell you. Is she hungry? Does she need a fresh diaper? Could she be tired? Is she comfortable? You can then use this list to troubleshoot the next time your baby cries. Sometimes your baby may cry for no obvious reason -- due to gas, reflux or colic -- which may take some time to figure out.
- Try Comfort Measures
According to O'Connor, your next step should be to try to comfort your little one. "Newborns do not like to be alone, so keeping her close can help," she says. You can take turns holding the baby close or wearing her in a carrier. If you're breastfeeding, try nursing -- even if your baby isn't hungry. According to O'Connor, "Comfort nursing is a great parenting tool -- it soothes the baby, feeds the baby and helps with milk supply." You can also try swaddling, shushing and swaying your baby; some infants love the tight-womb feeling that being bundled, moving and hearing white noise can recreate.
- Dance With Your Baby
Slow-dancing with your newborn in your arms can also help soothe her. According to Armenta, "Babies are used to movement, noise and mom's heartbeat from being in utero, and this method incorporates babies trying to adjust to a new world. They love the music, strong movement and calming heartbeat." Not only does dancing with your baby help calm down her cries and put her to sleep, it also helps relieve any stress you may be feeling.
- Remain Calm
It's important for both parents to always remain calm -- especially if your baby won't stop crying. Your baby can sense your unease and it might contribute to her distress. O'Connor suggests talking out loud to your baby. Start by saying reassuring phrases to your child, such as, "We will get through this," or, "I may not know how to help you right now, but I am here for you." This helps reassure yourself too! You can also try deep breathing or singing to settle your nerves. Your baby is not a music critic.
- Hire a Night Nanny
If all else fails and you just can't make it through one more sleepless night (or you have twins and need all the help you can get!), consider hiring a night nanny. A night nanny can take some of the burden from you during those wee hours and help you get some rest. With a good night's sleep, you'll be prepared to take on all your responsibilities during the day.
- Adjust Your Expectations
Your baby is only an infant for a short time. Remind each other that in the span of a lifetime, a few months of crying and sleepless nights is just a blink of an eye. Armenta recommends adjusting your mindset when parenting a newborn. "Surrender to this time [and understand] that it is not about you, but the life you chose to create for now," she advises.
For more tips, check out these ways to cope.
Though dealing with a crying baby is incredibly hard, remind yourself that it's temporary. You have a great teammate and with a little shifting around, patience and strategy, you will get through it -- and be all the better for it.
Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and family topics.