How can I cope with the frustration and anger I sometimes feel when my baby cries

It's the rare parent who isn't occasionally driven to feelings of frustration and even anger by a baby's crying. Sometimes it seems there's nothing you can do to stop the crying, that even your best efforts aren't good enough, and that your child must be the worst and most difficult baby in the world. While those feelings aren't pleasant, they are natural. You aren't alone in having them.

The key is to step back, mentally, and realize that this is just a baby you're dealing with. He may be loud and he may be aggravating, but he's not mean-spirited. He simply has needs and crying is his only way of expressing those needs. If you can stay calm while you get through a task that makes your baby cry— changing his clothes or bathing him—your steadiness will gradually help calm him. You probably won't see that right away. He may still scream every time you change his clothes for the next few weeks or months. But your calmness will give both of you confidence that this is a normal, everyday task, and not one to be feared.

If your baby's crying is really getting to you, and nothing you do seems to make a difference, you may need to step away physically. Ask you spouse, a friend, or a family member to come and take over for you, even if it's just for a half hour. If no help is available to you, you might take your baby for a walk outside, where the crying won't sound so loud and you won't feel so confined. The change of scene may even help calm your baby. As a last resort, if you feel so frustrated that you might hurt your baby, no help is available, and you know the problem isn't medical, lay him down in a place where he'll be safe (where he can't roll and fall) and go into another room for a minute or two. Take a few slow deep breaths to calm yourself. Then go back and try again to comfort him.

No matter how frustrated you become, never shake your baby, and never pick him up or put him down roughly. Shaking your baby can injure his brain and even kill him, and is a serious form of child abuse. If you are worried you may hurt your baby, get help by calling a family services agency in your community.

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