Understanding your Baby’s Cries

All parents would probably agree that it would be so nice if babies could just tell us what they need or what the matter is with them when they’re crying, especially during those long, late nights of sleeplessness.

But, what if there is? What if babies are already trying to tell us what’s specifically wrong, and we just need a bit of training to hear them?

An Australian mother, Pricilla Dunstan, studied the sounds of her newborn baby’s cries and began to notice patterns based on the circumstances. After studying a thousand other newborns, she developed a theory that babies have distinct cries for their various needs. While the evidence is still being studied, many parents swear that her theory is sound and eye-opening for them.

Here are some of the circumstances that cause babies to cry, and what a baby’s cry may sound like in each situation. It’s important to realize that every baby is different and may even use a combination of these cries, so looking for context clues as well as listening to their cry can help you better meet their needs.

Hungry: If your baby is hungry, you may hear a high-pitched, desperate, and rhythmic cry. Dunstan recognized the “neh” sound in babies, so listen for an initial “n” sound that could indicate your baby making a sucking motion.

Context clues: Look for your baby rooting or sucking on their fingers.

Tired: Your baby may be tired if you hear a breathless, whiny, continuous and progressive cry, getting louder and more intense with time.

Context clues: Look for your baby rubbing their eyes.

Bored or overstimulated – This cry may start softer than others but grow more distressed. They may be broken and not rhythmic.

Context clues: Watch for your baby turning their head away from sounds or sights. Notice if their laughter or coos turn into cries and whines.

Discomfort: This cry may be broken and have grunting sounds, like a “heh” sound according to Dunstan.

Context clues: Does your baby need a diaper change? Has a blanket bundled under their bottom or legs uncomfortably, or a toy or pacifier fallen underneath them? Perhaps they’re too hot or cold.

Pain: This cry is quite distinguishable, characterized by a powerful, piercing, cry that is often high-pitched.

Context clues: Your baby may arch their back, or strain their body in other ways.

Sick: This cry is usually not as piercing as pain, but is softer and more whimper-like with a nasal sound.

Context clues: Your baby seems low-energy, like they are physically unable to muster up a powerful cry. Check for a fever or other characteristics of an illness.

Gassy: A common irritant among babies, gassy cries may sound rhythmic, intense, and lower sounding (from the abdomen). You may also hear painful-cries as well.

Context clues: Your baby brings their legs into their abdomen and seems like their straining to push gas through.

 

Sometimes the cause of your baby’s cry isn’t as easy to identify. Try as you may, sometimes your baby just cries to cry. Experts agree that sometimes crying is just inconsolable and a phase, like being sleepy or being happy. Don’t let it strain your relationship with your baby or make you question your value or bond. Just by reading this article you are proving your value as a caring parent invested in the health and wellbeing of your baby. Experiment with various comfort methods, like swaddling, pacifiers, rocking, singing, etc. and don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you are concerned about your baby’s wellbeing or the source of their cries.

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Baby-Proofing Guide for New Parents

You’ve got a crib and the perfect car seat… but has your house been baby-proofed? Today, we’re recapping information from this post, and adding a few additional tips, in order to create the ultimate baby-proofing guide for new parents.

In the nursery

  • Tightly wind baby monitor cords, or choose a cordless option, and keep them away from the crib.
  • Keep all other cords behind furniture or in places where baby cannot reach them.
  • Instead of plastic outlet covers (which can pose a choking risk), try sliding covers like these.
  • Secure dressers and other heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Store toys in open boxes or other containers that won’t slam down on your baby’s hands. Avoid materials (like wicker) that can be easily pulled off or worn down.

In the kitchen

  • Store all cleaning supplies out of a child’s reach, or, if that’s not a possibility, in a cabinet with an effective child lock.
  • If your oven or stove knobs are within your child’s reach, try these great stove knob covers.
  • Try to keep pet food in an area that is not child-accessible, as it can be choking hazard to your little ones.
  • If you have any sharp corners, invest in corner covers. (Especially if you have tall babies like I do.)

In the bathroom

  • Make sure you store all bath products, especially bath, and baby oils, in a safe spot in child-resistant packaging. Check the ingredients of your bath and baby oils for liquid hydrocarbons, as these can be very harmful to a baby’s lungs.
  • Use non-slip mats in (and out) of the tub. If you have floors that get slippery, this is especially important.
  • Cover the tub spout (with a cover like this adorable whale) to protect baby’s head in case he falls.
  • To avoid water that is too hot, always test the water temperature first. You can also set your water heater to 120 degrees F, or install an anti-scalding device to your bath spout and sink faucet.
  • Keep all cords (from hairdryers, curling irons, etc.) out of reach; they can be a strangulation and a burning hazard.

In the family/living room

  • If you have large areas with windows, or sliding glass doors, mark them with stickers to avoid any collisions.
  • Cut off or tie up any dangling window cords or curtain sashes.
  • Secure TVs and other heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Place tall, unsecured lamps or other decorative items behind furniture, where they can’t topple over.
  • Keep heavy items on lower, sturdy furniture, in as inaccessible a location as possible (pushed all the way back into a shelf, etc.).

By the stairs

  • Use a baby gate to limit your child’s accessibility to the stairs. Consider the following when choosing a baby gate:
    • Are the stairs heavily used throughout the day?
    • Do you carry items like laundry up the stairs?
    • Do you need a larger area gated than just the top and bottom of the stairs?
    • Do you have any preferences on how the gate appears aesthetically?
  • If utilizing a baby gate is not possible, consider placing a temporary barrier, like a solid bench or a chair placed on its side in front of the stair opening.

When you’re away from home

  • Check for choking hazards (e.g. small toys, pet food, etc.) and ensure that these items are out of reach.
  • Ensure that all cleaning supplies and other chemicals are safely stored.
  • Where appropriate, bring and use outlet covers for accessible electrical outlets.
  • Move any plants out of your child’s reach, especially if they’re toxic.
  • When in doubt, get down on the floor at your baby’s level and examine the area.

Have we missed anything? What would you add to our baby-proofing guide?

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How To Pick The Ideal Name for Your Baby

Naming your child can be a fun, but daunting experience… especially if you and your partner have different naming styles. However, there are many great ways to help you pick the perfect moniker for your little one.

Find Your Naming Style
First off, it’s helpful to figure out your naming style. As in, do you prefer vintage names or more modern ones? What types of names does your partner prefer? Taking a quiz like this can be a fun way to figure this out, and also provide you with some name ideas, or give you some more direction when looking for possible options.

Think About How the Name Will Sound and Appear
Once you know your naming style think about how each considered name flows with your last name and with potential middle names. Think about how the name will be read and pronounced, too. And think about how easy/difficult it will be to teach your child to say and spell her own name.

Avoid Naming Pitfalls
There are a couple of minefields that can be created when you name your baby, and while you can’t avoid them all, some can be averted.

  • Avoid using a name that has awkward initials. (For instance, if your last name happens to start with the letter S, you should probably avoid a first name that starts with A and a middle name that starts with S. You get the idea.)
  • Be aware of potential nicknames and how they sound (or what they rhyme with). Your child will be so grateful.
  • Ensure they don’t have a lifetime full of naming corrections. This ties in with the point above. Be aware that an obscure name or unique spelling could garner this effect, and that it might be frustrating for your child as she grows up.

Consider Family Names
Take a look at your family tree for names that are distinctive and meaningful. You never know what gems you might find. Using family names is also a wonderful way to pay homage to your respective heritages.

Play the Elimination Game
If you’re having a difficult time narrowing down your list of names, try the elimination game. Compare two names and include only the name you like the best. If there’s a tie, keep both names. As you build a list, continually compare and contrast possible additions with what you already have. Or, try something like this fun little exercise.

If You Can’t Agree 
If, despite your best efforts, you find yourselves in a moniker deadlock, consider the following ideas:

  • Alternate naming each baby. Admittedly, this only works if you’re planning on having multiple children, but you can decide which person is to name this child, and which will name the next child. And so on.
  • Select one name each. You can select your child’s first name, and your partner her middle name, or vice versa.
  • Flip a coin. Sometimes, it’s better if Fate decides. This method can also be useful for deciding who gets to be first on the first two ideas above.
  • Create a baby name poll. Let your family and friends decide by giving them possible name options, and letting the name that gets the most votes win.
  • Remember, even if you have to compromise, you may grow to love the name as you link it with your child.

What methods have you used to pick the ideal baby name?

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4 Tips and Tricks for Terrible Teething

Let’s be honest, teething can be kind of terrible. It can be a long, frustrating process for you, and a painful one for your baby. But, take heart. Today we’re sharing four tips and tricks for terrible teething.

1. Teething Toys Are Your Friend                                 
This may seem obvious, but not all teething toys are created equal. It’s important to find the ones that work best for your child. It might be worth adding a Sophie the Giraffe to your arsenal. Or, consider a teething toy like this that is BPA-free and filled with sanitized water. You can use it as-is or throw it into the fridge or freezer; the cooler temperature will help soothe swollen, tender gums. If you’re uncomfortable using plastic toys in any form, try natural wooden teethers like these.

2. Never Underestimate the Power of a Gum Massage
For obvious, potentially finger-maiming, reasons this technique works best for little babies with few teeth. Using your (thoroughly sanitized) index finger, gently rub your baby’s gums in the area where the tooth is trying to emerge. You can also wrap a clean washcloth around your finger, if your baby has more teeth, or if the tooth has already broken through the surface of the gums.

3. Come Up With a Medicinal Teething “Game-Plan”
At your child’s next well-check appointment, discuss her teething symptoms with your Pediatrician, and come up with a teething “game plan.” Your doctor can counsel you about what medicine will be most effective to help alleviate a fever and teething pain, and provide scenarios where administering medicine is appropriate. This information can help empower you to make more informed choices to help your child weather the teething storm.

4. Remember, Teething Doesn’t Last Forever
Dealing with teething can be really stressful, and it’s especially difficult to see your baby in pain. So give yourself a pep talk every once in awhile, reminding yourself that one day, it’ll all be over. Then, you’ll have other exciting parental milestones to experience, like potty training. Haha. And maybe throw out some good vibrations to the teething gods that your next kid will cut teeth painlessly.

Good luck on your teething journey. And may the teething gods be with you.

 

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