Trying without success to get your baby to stop crying can be extremely stressful. However, your stress can actually make a fussy baby even worse. This makes you more stressed, and the cycle continues.
How does your stress affect the baby? It’s well documented that stress during pregnancy can be passed on to your baby. Once your baby is out of the womb, stress is still easily passed between parent and child, because baby can sense how you are feeling.
Unknowingly, you express stress in the following ways:
• Facial expressions
• Muscle tension
• Breathing rhythm
Because baby picks up on stress at all these levels, you must work to control and decrease your stress instead of just hiding it.
Here’s how you break the cycle.
7 Stress Management Techniques When Dealing With A Fussy Baby
1. Take deep breaths. Focus on breathing deeply, in through your nose, out through your mouth. Try to mimic the rhythm of breathing while sleeping, especially if you are holding your baby. Baby can feel the rise and fall of your chest, and will automatically adjust her breathing to match your own.
2. Repeat a silent saying. Create a mantra for yourself. A mantra is a short, simple saying that helps focus your mind and relax your body. It could be something as simple as “Stay calm, stay strong” or “I choose to be relaxed.”
Try different sayings until you find something that really has meaning for you. Repeat it slowly in your mind to help you center yourself and insulate you from stress.
3. Visualize a relaxing place. Take yourself out of the current situation by visualizing a location that makes you feel relaxed. Many people think of lying on a beach, for example.
Picture your location in exact detail; focus on what makes it “real” for you, such as the sounds, the smells, or the feeling of weather.
4. Remember you’re not alone. You are one of billions of parents who face a crying baby each day. The fact that baby won’t sleep isn’t a reflection on you as a parent and doesn’t mean that you are bad at parenting.
It probably doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with baby, although if there has been a sudden change in behavior, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
What it means is that baby hasn’t adjusted to life outside the womb yet. Baby doesn’t know how much sleep she needs and when she needs it. That lack of understanding is what causes nights like these. Remember, you’re not alone!
5. Take a break. It’s ok to step out of the room for a minute and collect your thoughts. If you stay in the same tense environment, it will be hard to change your mood, thus making it hard for baby to relax as well. Take a few minutes to yourself. Stretch your tired muscles, breathe deeply, and think logically. Then go back in and pass your newfound relaxation on to baby.
The final step to staying calm is to know when you need to trade off with someone. It can be a dangerous situation to be desperate for sleep with a baby that won’t calm down. If you find that you can’t bring your stress level under control, try to find someone who can switch off with you so you can leave the situation for a while.
Here’s how you know if it’s time to take a break:
• You can’t think logically or clearly
• You’re uncontrollably emotional: laughing, crying, etc.
• You get angry at baby or consider violence
• The situation is causing you to shut down and feel hopeless
If there’s no one around who can give you a few minutes of rest, don’t despair. Engage in the stress management techniques listed here and keep going through this list of strategies. Combine them or try them alone until you find the solution for you.
Remember that above all, your baby responds to your emotions; put yourself in a mental place where you feel relaxed and safe. Baby will sense this and adjust accordingly.