Hi folks, mostly need to offload and not sure which topic is best place to put this but I feel shit at the moment. I've been a first time dad for 10weeks now and I'm really struggling emotionally. The thing I'm struggling with the most at the moment is dealing with my baby screaming and crying. I can't stand the noise, it gets me so tense and stressed out. I find it so hard to form any bond with him now that I'm back at work too. I only get about an hour when I get home when he's awake and that time coincides with poo time and feed before settling him down for bed, so its mostly spent being screamed at again!. Does anyone have any tips on how to help with bonding in such a short time frame? By the time the weekend comes I feel knackered and grouchy!
This is probably one of the hardest things about being a parent, especially if it's your first child.
There are four things you need to understand before you can find any kind of peace
1) Understand why baby is crying.
2) Don't do it on your own - get help if you can.
3) You're smarter than baby!
4) Babies don't cry forever - you WILL get through this!
First of all, you need to know that babies cry - it's their nature. I've never met one yet that didn't. Screaming is the most frustrating noise in the world and it's often easy to lose your patience, get emotional, annoyed or even angry.
Even if there doesn't seem to be any reason for baby crying, it's not their fault. Babies by nature can't talk and crying is their way of letting us know that there is something wrong. It helps if you can look at this as a good thing - at least baby has a way of letting you know something's up.
Ok so what could be wrong? There are so many things but the most common are that baby is tired, hungry, thirsty, bored or in pain or discomfort. They could just be seeking attention, missing mum or dad, or even just have an itch that they can't reach. Often we over compensate by trying to feed baby even when they're not hungry because it pacifies them, or we want them to sleep more even when they're not tired - anything for a bit of peace and quiet.
Hunger and thirst are easy to resolve. Try to have a regular routine to keep baby topped up and don't be afraid to give them a dummy (we called them nummy-nums). I'd much prefer that baby was peaceful with a dummy than the alternative. They also tend to stop you from overfeeding baby although most of the time babies will just stop feeding when they've had enough.
Pain and discomfort - nappy rash is caused by poo and wee which is an irritant to the skin - try to stay on top of nappy changes. Sometimes nappy rash is unavoidable - baby might soil their nappy before they fall asleep and then have their skin in contact with it for hours. Babies also suffer from colic and wind - use gripe water, Baby might also be tired and simply can't sleep because of pain, external noise or any number of other reasons. I often found that background noise is best when it's steady - sudden changes in noise are often the reason babies can't get to sleep or wake up suddenly. They're just like us - we can sometimes sleep through anything like a tv or vacuum.
I always found tiredness a simple thing to solve - I'd walk around the garden in circles with baby until they fell asleep. Of course you have to take into account the weather but it works especially well at night. Babies often enjoy looking at the stars or trees or just feeling the wind on their skin. Just remember that you need to get them back in the house - if you go from a nice peaceful garden to a house full of noise, all of your work might be undone.
Unfortunately there could be any number of causes of pain and discomfort and you have no way of knowing. It's normally a process of elimination and if something is still wrong, maybe you need to get baby to the doctor. It could be something as simple as a common cold but don't rule out things like infection or other illnesses.
Baby could also simply be too hot or too cold.
Any parent that can get through a babies first year without help is a hero! But you need to take it in turns with your partner whenever possible. Don't be afraid to use an experienced babysitter or ask for help from friends and family. Even the neighbours if you trust them. They'll probably be thankful to have a little one around if theirs have grown up and they'll feel good knowing that you trust them. Just try not to take advantage and understand if they can't cope.
You have to have "me time", even if it's just so you can catch up on sleep, go for a walk or do the things you enjoy. You'll cope much better with crying when you've had a break and you're refreshed and ready for the challenge. Hopefully you and your partner will see each other as team-mates rather than someone to blame for not doing their part.
By the way if you're suffering from sleep deprivation, try to sleep as soon as baby does. If they're going to wake up in half an hour, it's best to grab forty winks as soon as possible - the last thing you want is to find baby is awake again and you haven't had time to reset yourself.
You're smarter than baby! It's sometimes really easy to change a babies mood. Finding an interesting toy, playing peek-a-boo, bouncing them on your knee, talking to them, giving them a bath, sitting them in front of the tv, music, pretty lights, bouncing them in their chair, etc. Even just taking them for a walk in their pushchair or in the baby backpack carrier. Whatever it takes to keep them occupied. Sometimes they just need company or distraction.
And finally, you WILL get through this! That first year or so might seem like it's never going to end but the incessant crying will get less and less as baby gets older. Especially when they learn to talk and tell you what's wrong. I often see eccentric people and wonder if a baby was the reason they're only rowing with one oar. But just bear in mind that things will get easier - it's something to look forward to at least. And when it's all done, you'll have a curious fun loving child that you can do great things with like going fishing or playing games with or whatever you both like to do. There's a world of discovery and adventure waiting for all of you - just get through the hard bit and try to appreciate them while they're still babies. You might not be as sane as before baby came along, but at least you'll be ready for the "silly" phase of being a dad!
By the way it's easy to know if you've lost your sanity because just when all the crying is over you decide to have another baby!
If the screaming simply gets too much put them somewhere safe like their cot and go and sit in the next room for a few minutes to calm down. Things could be worse - I just read an article about a woman in India who had 11 babies in one go!!! Imagine dealing with all that crying!
Thank you Paul, good advice there. I think one of things that's particularly got to me today is that when leaving for work I went to give him a quick goodbye whilst he was in his cot. He was awake and calm, looked happy but as soon as he locked eyes with me it set him off and he was crying again. Its situations like that which make me feel shit cos I have to go to work and am left feeling like he's upset by me or scared of me? I don't know. It hurts and it feels like its personal even though the crying is for the reasons you've described.
You'll probably find when he's older that when you go to work the tears are also with arms outstretched. He more than likely just doesn't want you to go. Don't take it personally - as I said, they're not in control of their emotions and mostly just act on instinct and need. It's not their fault - one day you'll look back and wonder why you ever felt the way you did, especially when you've had good days together.
Another thing to bear in mind is that dads often feel left out because baby creates a much stronger bond with the mother, especially if she's the main carer. Just take one day at a time, you'll get there.