Baby Huu has made a constant whining sound since 9 this morning (it's now 2:30 and he's finally sleeping). I couldn't figure out what was wrong. The only thing keeping me sane today is pretending he's going through some teenage angst and expressing it like Tina does. Maybe he's mad about his hair cut. LPT don't cut your baby's hair in the dark. It's bowl meets buzz meets shag a la Edward Scissorhands. I'd be sad too. The worst part about parenting is when you're unable to make your little one feel better.
It helps to vent a little and write about it. I'm not the only parent with a kid who plays the game of "if my hand isn't on my mom at all times I will die immediately, therefore I must scream about it." I propose we trade survival tips. Here's what I learned to use during his Purple Crying phase, updated to help in the toddler years. Basically, you need some trusty distractions up your sleeve.
1. The cat. She probably hates me for it, but sometimes I let him chase her down to distract him. Occasionally I even help in the hunt.
2. The dogs water bowl. There's is nothing more enticing to a kid then exploring something they can't have. I sometimes leave a full water bowl and a towel in the kitchen entrance so that I can finish the dishes in one go.
3. Speaking of kids wanting things they can't have: your food. It doesn't matter how much he ate, if I have food he wants it. For whatever reason, he loves picking crumbs off the barstool and out of his high chair. Some strategically placed puffs, pumpkin seeds, or fruit provides at least 3 minutes to eat before he takes over. This also helps when he's hungry but won't eat.
4. My pillow. If he's struggling at nap time or doesn't want to be alone, and tags isn't enough, I give him my pillow. He curles up on it and crashes. It doesn't always allow me to leave the room, but he at least gets a good nap when it looked like napping was impossible.
5. Pictures. If he's been inconsolable for hours, going to the room with a gallery wall and telling him about everyone helps. He has a favorite picture of him and his dad. Sometimes all he wants is to touch that picture.
6. Outside. This kid loves the back yard! He will stay out there for as long as I can tolerate it when it's freezing cold. There were a few days when he was a new born that were like today. I took him out in the snow and he calmed down. I might need to invest in a few snuggies this year.
7. Hugs. It's rare when going outside doesn't work. On those occasions, it can be that all he wanted was a long, tight hug. He's too heavy for me now, but I still have to bring out the carrier once in a while. As he grows, we've had to eliminate the hours of closeness he is used to, and he's a little resistant.
8. The dogs. They aren't grumpy like the cat. They let him sit on them. More likely, they tolerate it as long as they can, but they are good about it. He thinks it's funny. Sometimes he laughs himself to sleep and I wonder if he's thinking about his puppies.
9. Bath time. Even if he's already had a bath, sitting in the water helps calm him. We used this a lot when he had reflux.
10. The list. I always start with the list to check for possible reasons he won't stop crying: hunger, needs a diaper change, cold/hot, gassy, headache, bug bites, wants different pjs, teething, fever, needs to be held upright (which means it's reflux), needs a few minutes alone. It helps distract me from the difficulty of the situation to feel like I'm making progress towards a solution. Sometimes we go through the list twice before something works.
Before settling into this routine, I cried a lot because I felt like a failure when he cried for hours or days without end. You know, like the "you had one job" kind of failure. When you have a kid with reflux, who is also a purple crier, you need ways to cope. Nothing can prepare you for that before having kids. Today, I'll cope by using the freshness of the situation to share how I deal with unending fussiness, clinging and crying. I also want to hear from you. How do you calm your baby when it seems all their basic needs are met and they can't communicate?