Facts about crying babies

What do we actually know about crying babies?

I spend considerable time assessing what is appropriate or not for newborns.  A big part of this is understanding crying babies, what this means to the parents and could mean about the health of the baby.  So this post that Nuri from Squishy Tushy and I came up with for the #infoseries this week is about what do we actually know about crying – according to the science.

Understanding crying babies

Facts about crying (in otherwise healthy babies):

  • A cry is your baby’s first verbal communication.
  • Crying does not strengthen the lungs.  Apparently an old wives’ tale – let the baby cry because it’s good for their lungs. *GASP*
  • Crying in newborns is a reflex, meaning it’s automatic and not necessarily a conscious process.  It’s a reaction to a stimulus, either from external factors i.e temperature, noise, light etc., or internal such as hunger, tiredness, loneliness etc.  
  • Amazingly sonographers (the lovely people who perform ultrasounds) can even see ‘crying’ or a respiratory gasp from 20 weeks gestation.  

Crying during the first months are unique

Crying in the first 5 months is unique because it’s a lot more intense, frequent and sometimes inconsolable.  However, this phase has an end – wooohooo! 

The overall amount of crying per day tends to increase week by week, peaking some time during the second month and then decreasing to lower levels by four or five months.  This is sometimes referred to as the “normal crying curve.”  Researchers see this pattern as part of normal development – in the absence of organic disease or injury.  Studies show organic disease or injury accounts for only 5% of ‘colic’ babies. 

When babies cry they take in air

Prolonged crying can lead to aerophagia – meaning eating air!  I’ve spoken about this in our last #infoseries.  When babies cry they take in air, which then causes discomfort and interferes with digestion. They showed this by taking abdominal X-rays of three-week old babies during a crying episode and several minutes after. The X-ray post cry session showed marked distention, on average 360ml of air was swallowed, so fascinating.

A cry is basically a Valsalva manoeuvre  If you are not medically trained, don’t feel worried if you don’t know what that means.  Basically it is forcefully breathing out with your nose and mouth closed or not allowing the breath out.  A cry is similar in that it increases the pressure in the chest, cranium and abdomen.  Functionally short bursts of crying may help to pass a stool or fart. 

You can’t spoil a baby

The belief that an infant can be spoiled by having his cries answered each time is not supported by research.  In fact, appropriate cry management in the first 6 months of life lessens infant crying later.

  • Equip yourself with an arsenal of soothing techniques for your little one’s episodes.  The research shows that crying reduction strategies often lose effectiveness with repetition. 
  • Kangaroo care is the most effective way to prevent crying.  Being wrapped up, skin-to-skin with mom even helps babies deal with painful medical procedures and post-operative care. 

Do not fret moms and dads.  You are not expected to be instant experts on why your baby is upset or what the problem is or how to deal with it.  You take it one day at a time.  As your baby is navigating the new world, you too are beginning your journey of parenthood.

Baby chiropractors are an important part of helping families during the first 5 months of a baby’s life.  Chiropractors are able to assist parents to identify any factors that may be contributing to excessive crying and pain.  Several studies show that chiropractic care results in less crying time, YAY!   So if you notice that your baby may be crying due to excessive winds, pain with different postures or positions, or has difficulty latching then be sure to contact us for an assessment or referral to a chiropractor in your area.

That is why I am here  and sharing these blogs with you.   Feel free to ask any questions you have and please share with your mommy and daddy friends.

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