full diaper

Infants do not cry ‘for no reason.’

Infants do not cry to upset you. They don’t have a concept of hurting others and they don’t have any reason to want to do so.

Infants do not have any other way of communicating distress or an unmet need. They do not have a choice about crying.

Do not ever yell at, shake, or punish an infant. They will not learn from this – but they will be upset and afraid and possibly harmed, either in the moment or via problems in brain development.

It’s okay to take a minute to set an infant down and go into a quiet room if you are having a hard time staying calm and comforting, and come back when you have more self-control.

The only way to get an infant to cry less is to meet their needs. If you spend a lot of time with infants you can actually learn to notice when they need something, before they cry about it at all. Most infants show signs of discomfort, hunger, or having a full/wet diaper, before they get upset enough to cry.

Infants whose needs aren’t usually met right away may learn to cry immediately. Regularly not responding to an infant’s crying teaches the infant to panic every time they need something, and the trauma of being so afraid so often as an infant can cause issues with healthy brain develoment.

If a baby is crying, they need something.

  1. Is their nappy/diaper clean and dry? Even if it’s just wet, it should be changed right away.

  2. Are they hungry? A quick way to check is to run your finger over their mouth and see if they try to grab it with their lips.

  3. Do they have air bubbles? You may be able to tell if this is the problem by feeling the infant’s tummy for unusual firmness.

    Infants need to be burped right after they eat to help them get rid of air bubbles that may get trapped and cause discomfort. If it’s been little while since they last ate, it may be more effective to lay the infant on their back and move their legs in a bicycle motion.

  4. Are they too warm/cold? Touch the infant’s hands and feet to see if they need more or fewer coverings.

  5. Are they overstimulated? If it’s too noisy/bright or they’re being touched by too any people, etc., they may need to be held by one calm person with a blanket over their head. Like most people, infants tend to get more easily overstimulated when tired.

  6. Are they able to breathe freely? Infants cannot blow their own nose. A nasal aspirator is an inexpensive tool you can use to help them clear nasal congestion.

  7. Are they in pain? When an infant is sick or otherwise in pain, it may be beneficial to give them pain medication formulated for infants, such as baby tylenol. Always follow the instructions on the bottle and consult a doctor or pharmacist with any questions.

    If a cold doesn’t start to improve within a few days or the infant seems to be in pain but you don’t know why, consult a doctor. The infant may have colic, silent reflux or other issues which can sometimes be treated.

    If the infant is more than a couple months old, they may be teething. Baby tylenol will still help but a numbing paste, like orajel, on their gums may be more effective. They may also need teething toys to chew on or a cold wet (clean) washcloth.

  8. Do they just need reassurance? Infants like being sung to, murmured to, and soothed with rhythmic “shhh”-ing. Calm and steady sounds help reassure them that they aren’t alone and help them relax.

    Another way to comfort an infant is to bounce them gently and rhythmically in your arms, and/or pat their back rhythmically.

    Some infants, including most newborns, may need to be swaddled. A tight swaddle helps the infant feel secure and warm. Ask a doctor, nurse, parent, or YouTube to show you how to do a proper swaddle.

  9. Do they need to be held? The need for touch is the need most often ignored. Infants are significantly more likely to thrive with lots and lots of skin-to-skin contact. They also just need to be held, in general, a lot of the time.

    Being held (especially with skin to skin contact but even without it) helps the infant release hormones necessary for healthy brain development. Being close enough to feel an adult’s steady heartbeat is calming and beneficial for an infant.

    For these reasons and many others, infants need to be held - a lot. Our closest primate relatives maintain constant physical contact with their babies for the first year of life. Historically most humans have lived communally, which allows several people to take turns providing the necessary physical contact.

    Infants don’t need to be held every single moment, but the more they are held, the safer and more secure they’ll feel and the more likely they are to be healthy. A sling, baby wrap, or wearable infant carrier can help an infant get necessary contact time.

    If an infant needs contact to sleep, consider getting a cosleeper cushion to safely allow you or someone else to sleep next to the infant. If that isn’t possible, sleep training where you pick up and comfort the baby each time they cry, and then put them down slightly sooner each time that night, may help.

Do not let an infant cry and cry for help and not give it to them.

Day One Hundred and Twenty-Six

-A woman’s total came out to $6.32. She handed me $5.07 and waited patiently for her change. I let her know that there was $1.25 left, to which she let me know that this was the correct amount for her to receive back. Upon getting my point across, she handed me $1.00 more. Hesitantly, I pointed out the discrepancy, at which point she took the balance out of my hand and passed me a crisp ten.

-A bouncing baby with, what I suspected to be, a full diaper, showed me his talent of fitting his entire fist inside his mouth. Already, he has accomplished more in life than I could ever dream of achieving.

-When asked how she was today, a woman replied with only silence and a single thumb raised to the sky. This fleeting moment spoke volumes more than any mere words could.

-In one of the most tragic moments I have yet to witness, a jar of salsa slid out of a man’s cart and shattered into thousands of spicy shards, spraying all over his sandal-clad feet. This was not a tragedy for his loss of mild picante pleasure, nor did the sadness lie in the hot mess left for me to clean. The deeply troubling nature of the situation stemmed entirely from the squelches that accompanied each of his steps after.

-A man asked me not to bag any of his items, as he had, instead, brought along with him a large bucket.

-A five year-old girl approached my register, got up on her toes to rest her arm along the bar, and, holding up five of her little fingers, ordered as many stickers, to go. With a flick of my wrist and a wink of my eye, I served up this order, receiving only a blank expression in return. True artistes are never appreciated in their time, but I will never give up the Craft of Flair.

-I handed a child a sticker. His mother prompted him to thank me. When he did not, his mother revoked his sticker privilege and insisted that he say his thanks. Instead, he turned to me, looked directly into my eyes, and said, “Voodoo.” I deeply wish she had just let him keep the sticker. Another curse is the last thing I need right now.

-I saw a man in his eighties walk into the airlock at the store’s entrance, perch himself upon a motorized cart, and drift swiftly to sleep. I want this man to take me under his wing and teach me, as I could never achieve such sound slumber so speedily in such a trafficked place, but I know that I can never ask him as much. That would involve waking him up, and that simply will not do.

-I watched a young boy walk up to my lane, brandishing a pixelated sword from Minecraft and a Peter Quill mask from Guardians of the Galaxy. He asked me if I could ring up his aforementioned “Star Wars toys”, and after a brief pause, if I had heard of that new movie about the galaxy guards. When I told him that I had, he informed me that he was, in fact, the guy from that. Naturally, I was starstruck and asked him for more details. This rare celeb sighting was sadly cut short, as Star-Lord’s dad leaned over my counter, stole my hand sanitizer, and demanded to know what exactly was with these credit card chips he kept hearing about everywhere.

-A newborn child, scarcely two months-old, rolled through my lane and, in the moments that followed, changed my life. I smiled. She giggled. I waved my hand. She waved her foot. I stuck my tongue out. She waved both her feet. This is now, and will forever be, our secret handshake.