In those first few months your baby will cry and it will be almost impossible to soothe him. He will cry and it will be so unpredictable you’ll be pulling out your hair because you can’t figure him out, and…it could last for the first four months of his life.
The good news is that it’s normal. All babies go through it to some degree. It will pass. That’s the best news.
Similar to a baby’s biological clock when your child is first born his nervous system hasn’t matured yet. This can mean that he has a difficult time regulating the amount of stimulation flooding his nervous system and it can take many months for his system to mature enough to begin regulating it. During this time it can be difficult to calm and soothe an over-stimulated baby even with your help. Parents need to understand that stimulation for a newborn can include the simplest of acts:
- Feeding – it is possible to over-feed!
- Handling – it is possible to over-soothe!
- Talking to him
- Making eye contact with him
This normal stage of development in an infant’s life can also be called the Period of Purple Crying. This is not because the baby turns purple from crying. This period was named to describe the stage in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time. It can begin at 2 weeks and remain until 3-4 months of age. The crying can be unexpected and can come and go, he will resist your soothing attempts, and the crying spells can be long-lasting and generally occur in the late afternoon and evening. Because of the timing of this stage, it’s often confused with colic, as this behaviour can escalate to such distressed behaviour that it can be mistaken for pain. The most important thing to remember during this period is that this is a normal part of every infant’s development. It will pass.
When he is over-stimulated his risk of becoming overtired increases because he is kept awake for longer, which can add to the crying and struggle. Your goal is to watch his signs. As adults we can leave situations that are too busy or too loud, or avoid them all together, but your baby can’t. He depends on you to pick up on his tired signs and cues and remove him from that disruptive environment. A few things you can you do to try to soothe your baby and make his environment more appealing to sleep are:
- Bring him into a low stimulating environment. Avoid one that encourages wakefulness. At this point your baby can’t just sleep anywhere anymore and may need a more quiet and calm sleep environment like his own nursery and crib.
- Dim the lights, lower the volume, and keep minimal activity, all of this can encourage sleep.
- Watch the length of his awake times. Dont’ stretch them out too long.
The most important thing to remember my, Good Night parents, is this too shall pass. It can just be a frustratingly normal stage of development that your baby needs to go through and you will get through on the other side. Have patience. It will happen.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Infant and Toddler Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips please visit Good Night Sleep Site.