A friend is a single mother of a new baby, struggling with the crying. I asked Jacqueline Bacino to give suggestions:
Being a single parent is difficult. The first 4-5 months of an infants life is very similar to still being in the womb because they sleep, eat, and lay a lot. Still, don’t underestimate the power of song, language and communication to them, teaching them that their needs are important and will be met by a loving caregiver.
There are at least 5 things single mothers must do to take care of themselves and therefore the baby.
1. Read your baby’s cues to avoid stress. A 3 week old infant is still too immature to calm themselves and communicate their needs on their own, so try to be prepared so you baby is not waiting too long for a bottle, getting over tired, needing a diaper, etc. Infant crying makes an adults blood pressure rise, stressing you and your infant even more. Try to stay calm and build an understanding of what they need and how it sounds when they cry for it. Your infant needs to stay as stress free as possible to grow, and you too in order to adapt to their needs. Optimal stress for an infant is not too much crying, but just a little. If your infant persists and cries more than 4 hours a day, consult a doctor because there is a chance your infant has ‘Colic’ and more steps to promote calm caregiving can be provided.
2. Promote plenty of rest for you and the baby. The rule of thumb for baby’s is they really are overtired most of the time, so every 90 minutes after they wake up they should probably go back to sleep. If you can set a sleep schedule for them then you’ll be able to rest when they rest or take care of much needed chores and personal time. There are many resources at local libraries that can help you learn about the 90-minute sleep schedule technique.
3. Try swaddling and “The Happiest Baby” technique as suggested by Dr. Harvey Karp. A swaddle promotes a calming device within the baby so they sleep longer and feel more secure in the world. A video of such can be found on You Tube searches. Make sure you ask your doctor about swaddling or ask a local mother friend or someone experienced to show you the technique.
4. Build a relationship with your infant based on their temperament.You can’t expect your infant to change, but you can promote a relationship by understanding them. Infants need security to thrive in the world so your relationship with them will be the first steps to building social relationships for life.
5. Ask for help. If you have a community, church, child care center, friendship network, etc., ask for what you need and let others help you. Single parents deserve 10 times as much praise as two-parent households, and they are challenged for support in our independent culture.