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Why Does She Cry?


At times, this first year in your baby's life can seem totally demanding. Sometimes you feel that all she wants is to feed or cry, and that you are completely occupied with these two tasks throughout the day. To some extent, you are right!

The Feeding Experience

In the early weeks, she probably needs to be fed every two or three hours or whenever she is hungry, and even though her meals are more spaced out by her first birthday, your infant's eating habits can make meal time seem to stretch on for ages. There are good reasons why she eats with such frequency. For instance, her birth weight doubles by the age of five months, and triples by the end of the first year -that's quite a growth spurt by anybody's standard.

Her length also increases significantly. At birth, the typical baby is about 50cm long, but is about 75cm long a year later. It's hardly surprising that one of the effects of this rapid physical growth is that she needs more and more milk during the early months, and that eventually, she will require solids not long after to satisfy her ever-increasing hunger. In other words, she eats so frequently because her body tells her to seek nourishment.

Don't forget also that feeding is an emotional experience for your growing infant. Whether bottle-fed or breastfed, you'll hold her in your arms during the feed so that she can see you, feel you and snuggle up close to you. This makes her feel safe and secure. So feeding is not just about eating, it's also about forming an emotional connection with you. This is a further incentive for her to feed as often as possible.

Communicating Through Crying

As your baby doesn't have the use of words during this first year, crying is typically her most effective means of communicating with you. How else can she tell you that she is sad, bored, in pain or discomfort? She also learns very quickly that crying is a good way to get your attention. It doesn't take long for your new baby to see the connection between howling loudly and the appearance of a loving parent to comfort and soothe her.

Before you know it, crying becomes her system of communication for calling you to her side. Another reason frequently given for persistent baby crying - especially for regular evening crying in babies around the age of three months - is "colic", even though there is no universally agreed definition of this condition. The term "colic" derives from the Greek word kolokos  meaning "to do with the colon", suggesting it is a gastrointestinal problem.

Doctors use the term to describe a pain in the stomach that is assumed to be caused by a spasm in the stomach muscles. Those never-ending wails of pain can be enough to break the patience of the most determined carer. As all of the above factors illustrate, high-frequency hunger and crying occur naturally as part of your infant's development during her first year, in order to meet her changing nutritional, physical and emotional needs.

It's not that you are doing something wrong or that she is doing something wrong -it's simply part of the normal growth pattern. Be reassured, however, that her pattern gradually changes. As she nears the 12-month mark, you'll find that her feeds are less frequent and that she cries a lot less than she did a few months ago.

Babyproofing Your House

At the age of one-year-old, your toddler loves to explore. She wanders all over the house, poking her hands and face into dark cupboards, climbing on to tables and chairs so that she can see out the window, unscrewing the top of am bottle she finds in order to sample its contents, and reaching for the handles of simmering pots.

The problem is that this surge in her spirit of adventure is not matched with an increase in her sense of danger - she has almost no sense of danger at all. Bear in mind that simply reprimanding her when she puts herself at risk is not always the most effective strategy - it is often more effective to give her a big hug for behaving sensibly rather than punishing her for doing something that is dangerous.

That's why it is good to give her lots of praise when, for instance, she carefully walks round an object lying on the ground instead of standing on it. Teaching her about safety isn't only a matter of shouting at her when you see her approaching a potential hazard.

Making Your Home Baby-Proof

Given the combination of your one-year-olds need to explore and her ignorance of danger, here are 10 ways you can make your home safe:

Visual Scan

Look around your house from your child's point of view. Try to identify potential hazards that your toddler might find so fascinating that she will investigate. Then take action to make these items safe.

Electric Sockets

Every socket that does not have a plug inserted in it should be covered with a plastic safety cover. This stops your child from poking her little fingers into those enticing spaces.

Window Locks

Your toddler is probably more agile than you realise. She may be smart enough to use a chair as a climbing prop in order to lean out an open window. All windows should have locks.

Cupboard Locks

Your one year old has a good sense of taste, but that won't stop her from trying to drink the contents of the bottle of bleach she finds in the cupboard under the sink. Attach a childproof lock.

Medicines

The same applies to medicines, which may catch her attention. Place all pills in a raised, locked cupboard so that she has no opportunity to swallow them in a fit of curiosity.

Cooker Guard

The sight of a boiling pot may arouse your infant's interest. As a result, she may reach up for the handle, oblivious to the fact that she is in serious danger of burning herself. A cooker guard prevents pots from being toppled over this way.

Sharp Corners

While you cannot eliminate sharp corners entirely from your house, do your best to "soften" them to prevent knocks. For instance, consider putting small padding on the corners of the coffee table that is in the middle of the room.

Small Objects

While exploring her surroundings, your one year old is likely to pick up any small object she finds and then put it into her mouth. Try to keep the floor, tables and chairs clear of items that may be a swallowing hazard.

Fragile Objects

Remove all special ornaments, picture frames and precious mementos out of her reach - this usually means keeping them well out of her sight and touch, or storing them in locked cupboards until she is older.

Shelves

She is enticed most by the item on the shelf that she could reach if she stood on something to give her extra height. She overbalances very easily in this position, so put everything very high up.

 

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