A baby cries to express discomfort or to let you know that he needs something. As the two of you get to know each other, you will be able to know your baby's cry and his signals for comfort.
Here are a few signs that your baby is getting upset. Your baby's skin may turn red or get a mottled look or he may turn his eyes away from you and look at something else. Your baby may have increased movement of his head, arms and legs. Also, frowning, fast breathing, yawning, sneezing, hiccups or crying can be signs that your baby is upset.
The best time for your baby to become familiar with your face and voice is when she is awake and calm. Without talking, hold your face about nine inches away from her and let her look at you. Begin talking in a normal voice, but use a soft, quiet tone. If you see some of her signs of distress, stop talking, and again just let her look at you. This gives your baby practice at getting control of herself. Unwrap the baby so that she can get used to controlling her body movements. If you see distress signals, wrap her up, don't rock her, just hold her to see if she will settle down.
The sooner you can settle your baby, the easier it will be to calm him. Stop talking, singing and making noise and avoid face-to-face interaction. Rock the baby gently using an up and down rocking (vertical rocking) motion instead of side to side, and hold the baby's body close to you in a soft curve position. Wrap the baby (swaddle). Put the baby in a front pack. Offer a pacifier.
Watch your baby's signals. Give your baby "down time," time away from your close attention. Play with her when she is ready, not when you want to. Don't rock, talk and look at your baby at the same time. Pick one action, watch your baby and add stimulation as he lets you. Let him set the pace for interaction. If your baby does not want to look at you, don't try to follow the baby's look.
Copyright 2003 HealthPartners, Inc. CHP/06-03/#120338 (Used with permission)