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Although a baby's constant crying might alarm you, it's important to remember that crying in newborns and infants is normal. "Children under age one cry for many reasons: hunger, sleep, dirty diapers, and being over or under stimulated," explains Michelle Haley, M.D., pediatrician at Children's Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. "And parents should realize that crying will not hurt an infant."
Dr. Haley also points out that a baby who cries a lot is not an indication of poor parenting skills -- some babies simply cry more than others. Erika Landau, M.D., co-author of The Essential Guide to Baby's First Year, agrees. "If you respond immediately and the crying stops, there is no reason to worry."
If your infant is inconsolable, you may want to ask your pediatrician about colic. "Colic is usually a symptom of pain in the gut, so the task is to determine what is causing the stomach issues," says Bob Sears, M.D., co-author of The Portable Pediatrician. "The two most common causes of colic are allergy to cow's milk protein and a sensitivity to milk sugar called transient lactase deficiency."
You bring your little one home from the hospital and suddenly he starts sneezing. Before you rush him back to the doctor's office or start taking his temperature frequently, keep in mind that a newborn's sneezing is simply how he clears his nasal and respiratory passages of congestion and airborne particles.
Sneezing also helps reopen a temporarily closed nostril that can occur when a baby presses up against you while nursing (if his nose is flattened or one nostril is pushed shut). After feeding, the baby will take a breath or sneeze to open his nose again.
When should sneezing worry you? If your baby is running a fever, has a runny nose, seems congested, or has difficulty breathing.
Breast vs. Bottle
Many new moms put a lot of pressure on themselves to breastfeed like a pro right after giving birth but it is a learned skill for both mom and Baby. "Many new moms who are breastfeeding often worry that their babies aren't getting enough food because they always seem hungry," says Gina Ciagne, a certified lactation counselor and senior director of health care and media relations at Lansinoh Laboratories. "The early days may be the hardest, as it seems like baby is eating round the clock. Rest easy -- this is very normal. It takes some time to establish a steady supply and schedule, but both mom and Baby will get there by nursing frequently. Just allow yourself time and trust your body and your baby's cues."
There's no need to lose sleep about supplementing with formula -- or switching to it entirely, either. "I daydreamed about the moment my baby would breastfeed for the first time, and you know what? It was a nightmare. He wouldn't latch on; my nipples were raw, cracked, and bleeding after the first few days; and the poor little guy was seemingly starving," says Cheryl Butler, a family columnist for Mighty Mommy and mother of eight. "As much as I longed to breastfeed, it wasn't for me. It took me over two months to let go of the guilt, but my son thrived and did just fine with formula."
Bonding with Baby
Even if you've dreamed about meeting your baby for nine months, after hours of labor you might just look at your newborn and feel more tired than in love. That's normal, Butler says. "In some instances, moms do connect and bond right away, but there is nothing to worry about if that's not the case for you. Getting to know your baby through feedings, cuddling, even simply observing the interactions between your spouse and the baby will all help with this process. Bonding is a growing process -- it doesn't happen immediately -- and it deepens over time."
If you have friends or family members with babies around the same age as yours, it can be easy to worry that your little one isn't progressing at the same pace as her peers. Don't worry about comparing your child to all the other infants on the block, says Gigi Schweikert, early childhood and parenting expert and author of I'm a Good Mother. "Children develop at different rates. Although there is a sequence of developmental milestones and an approximate age at which babies master new skills, rely on your regular appointments with your pediatrician and on your own maternal instincts, even though they are new, to assess if your child is growing and developing as he should."
According to Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist, even if a baby is going to be developmentally delayed, it doesn't make a lot of sense to get anxious about it before he is a year old. "Of course, parents can and should still do things to help their babies along, by encouraging them to walk, talk, and so forth, and let their pediatrician know what's going on too, during regular appointments."