NO MORE TEARS: THE CRYING FIX EXPERTS SWEAR BY
Learn these simple ‘mindfulness’ techniques to help both you and your little one through the tears
Mindfulness techniques to help bub through the tears
An increasing number of mums are turning to mindfulness, a form of meditation that focuses on openness and awareness, to help them and their babies work through the stress of tears.
Mindfulness expert and co-author of Everyday Blessings: Mindfulness For
Parents (Hachette, $35) Myla Kabat-Zinn says mindful parenting isn’t about being the perfect mum. “It’s about being more aware, present in the moment and open-hearted,” she says. “That makes a huge difference to our children and how we respond to them.
“When babies cry, we get stressed,” she says. “It’s a natural response to make us respond – that’s how babies survive.” But that stress can be difficult to deal with, and many mums can shut down their emotions in the face of it. “By being more mindful, though, you can respond with kindness and clarity in difficult moments,” says Myla. The next time your baby cries, try these techniques and see for yourself.
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONDITIONS AROUND YOU
“We’re not always going to be able to stop our babies from crying,” says Myla. “But we can attune to them and think about the conditions that may have led to the tears.” She says by considering how your baby sees the world and understanding why she might be crying, you’ll be better able to help. “There are so many things we can bring awareness to. Ask yourself: how do the clothes your baby is wearing feel to her? Is it time to take your baby to a quiet place because she’s been overstimulated in a busy environment?” Myla says. “Also, some bubs love to be swaddled and held closely, but some can’t stand it.”
BE AWARE OF THE REASONS WHY YOU’RE FEELING STRESSED
Listening to your little one crying is upsetting, especially when you’re unable to settle her. But Myla says this could be less to do with your baby and more to do with you. “Sometimes your reaction to your baby crying has more to do with your own experience of being a child and not necessarily what is happening in the moment,” she explains. “If you didn’t feel nurtured yourself, you may get extremely distressed hearing your baby cry.”
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Does it sometimes feel as if it’s only your baby who cries all the time? Or, if this is your second child, are you at a loss as to why she cries more than your first did? “Look at your expectations – you might realise you’re expecting your baby to behave in a certain way, making you experience frustration or anger,” says Myla. “Open yourself to the possibility that every baby is different and ask yourself how you can work with yours.”
REALISE THAT BABIES CRY
Myla says the first nine months of bub’s life is almost like a fourth trimester. “It’s a big transition going from inside to outside, so it’s normal for babies to cry,” she says. “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
Even if you understand why your baby is crying, there’s not always a lot you can do about it. “Many babies hate having their nappy changed,” says Myla. “Are you going to be tense and anxious about her crying when you change her nappy? Or can you accept the crying, calm yourself, relax into your body and have a little empathy with your baby and yourself?”
TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS
Babies always cry for a reason, but you won’t always understand what that reason is. And you may feel as if you’ve failed your baby if you can’t soothe her and stop her crying.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Myla. “If you can’t figure out why she’s crying and nothing you’re doing is working, just try bringing a little kindness to the moment. Pick her up, hold her and try to imagine what it feels like to be a baby. If you couldn’t talk yet, and perhaps didn’t even know the reason why you were upset, what might you want? You’d probably simply want to be held with some gentleness.”
Try different ways to soothe your baby and find out what’s helpful to her. She might be comforted if you try to re-create a whooshing sound, like she heard in your womb, or by movement. Some babies are soothed by a trip in the car or by the sound of the vacuum cleaner, while others love to hear you sing to them. “Just remember that what works today might not work tomorrow, or even the next moment,” says Myla. “Instead, try and be open to what helps in the present moment.”
ACCEPT THE FACT YOU CAN’T SOLVE EVERYTHING
So, what happens if your baby is crying persistently and nothing you’re doing calms her? “Accept the situation as it is,” says Myla. “Say to yourself, ‘This is what is happening, she is crying, this is difficult. I may not be able to stop her crying, but what I can change is how I am in relation to it all.’”