I cannot tell you how often I hear from moms in my office that their baby crying is a trigger for anger or anxiety. And it makes so much sense.
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When our baby is crying we often feel helpless, like something is wrong, and we don’t know what to do to help them feel better. Or we feel angry, like we have done everything they need, and they are still unhappy with us. It can directly impact our self-worth as a parent and can make us doubt our parenting abilities. It makes sense that your baby’s crying can trigger feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression.
4 Steps to Take When You Feel Triggered by Your Baby’s Crying
1. Take a Deep Breath
First things first. When you hear your baby crying, and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and have heightened emotions; the adrenaline will be rushing through your body, signalling to your brain that you need to get into your fight-or-flight response. So, before we can do anything else, we need to calm this response down.
Close your eyes. Imagine you are sitting on a beach somewhere (or wherever your favourite spot is). Take some deep breaths; breathe in and out, in and out. Calm your nervous system down so you can think clearly.
2. Take a Sensory Break
Sometimes, in order to calm yourself down you need to take space from your baby. Deep breathing on its own, while you are still holding your crying baby, doesn’t always work. This is when I encourage moms to make sure the baby’s needs are met. Is your baby in a safe place? Is your baby fed? Is your baby’s diaper dry? If the answers to all these questions are yes, it’s okay to take a break.
Put your baby down in a safe spot, go into the bathroom, and give yourself a sensory break. A sensory break means turning off all of the lights, and, for one or two minutes, sitting in silence and allowing yourself to calm down. Your baby will be okay for a few minutes in a safe spot. In fact, your baby will be better off with a calm mom who took a few minutes to calm herself down, than a mom who is so angry or anxious that she cannot handle it. It is okay to take a quick break to calm yourself down.
If you find that you are a mom who is very sensitive to lights and noises, build sensory breaks into your day even when your baby isn’t crying! These moments of peace and a break from noise and stimulation will help you feel calm in the moments when your baby is crying.
3. Check Your NESTS
It is so much harder to deal with crying when you are running on empty. If you find that you are constantly being triggered by your baby’s crying, it’s important to check in on your own NESTS.
- Nutrition: Are you eating during the day? Are you getting at least one meal that has some veggies or fruits in it?
- Exercise: Are you getting physical activity each day? There is a lot of literature to support the connection between exercise and mental well-being.
- Sleep: I know this one is very tough for new moms, but are you sleeping? There is a huge correlation between anxiety, depression, anger, and sleep deprivation! This is where you might need to look for a postpartum doula or call on your village to help you get at least four hours of consecutive sleep a night.
- Time for self: When was the last time you took time just for yourself? If you can’t remember, then it is time to schedule some self-care. Do something non-baby-related, just for you.
- Support: Who is in your village? Who can you share your feelings with? Know who these people are, and call on them. They want to help you, they want to see you thrive. It is okay to ask for a break, and it is okay to take that break. Good moms need support, and you are a good mom.
4. Give Yourself Grace
This transition into caring for a new little one can be really hard. For what may be the first time, there is someone depending on you for everything, and this can feel extremely overwhelming at times. Give yourself compassion and a lot of grace.
No mom knows exactly what they are doing 100% of the time. Every baby cries from time to time, and your baby crying does not mean you are a bad mother. Your baby crying is a form of communication, and sometimes all they are saying is, “Hey, mom. I’m new here and trying to figure out this world, too.”
The fact that you read this article to help you navigate your feelings tells me you’re doing amazing as a mom, despite how hard it may be at times.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional support either. A professional can help you work through your feelings around crying and create a plan that specifically works for you.
You Are Not Alone
In fact, Jess and Scott struggling through their first year as parents is how Nurtured First began. Our Postpartum Bundle was created with parents like them, and you, in mind. The bundle gives pregnant and postpartum parents the tools they need to calm their anxious thoughts, bond with their baby, respond to crying with ease, and truly enjoy their time with their little bundles of joy. If you’re ready to enjoy early parenthood and handle it with confidence, The Postpartum Bundle is the best place to start.
- When triggered by your baby’s crying, take a deep breath to calm your nervous system.
- Take a sensory break by putting your baby in a safe place and give yourself a few minutes of silence to calm down.
- Check your N.E.S.T.S. (Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Time for self, and Support) to ensure you’re taking care of yourself.
- Give yourself grace and compassion during the challenging transition of caring for a newborn.
- Remember that your baby’s crying is not a reflection of your parenting abilities.
- Don’t hesitate to seek professional support if needed.