We’ve all been there. We’ve all been that person on the train or bus, or at the supermarket, with the crying baby. You get flustered, and feel like everyone’s staring at you, wondering what you’re doing to that baby to make him yell like that.
The truth is babies cry and no one is looking at you. No one has noticed your baby has had a meltdown. If they have, it’s probably another parent, and it’s more likely that they’re looking at you with sympathy. While you’re in that moment though, it can sometimes be hard to think rationally. Here’s what I’ve learned and some steps I took to keep level-headed during my baby’s meltdowns.
Keep calm and carry on.
The number one way I get through any meltdown is to keep calm. Deep breaths. Don’t panic and freeze up. The only way to survive is with a clear head.
Assess your exit strategy.
Even though you’re seeing red, look around to work out how you can exit the situation as fast as possible. I remember one incident at the supermarket where I dropped everything and just left. Sometimes that’s all you can do. On a bus – obviously you’re momentarily trapped. You can either ride it out, or get out at the next stop and reassess if you need to head back home, or if your outing is salvageable.
Keep anything that might remotely help close by. For tiny babies, a pacifier or bottle can usually do the trick. But I’ve found my older children can often be calmed with snacks and are easily distracted by toys or my phone. I’ve learned to keep these items in my pocket or in the front pocket of my diaper bag so they’re easy to pull out in an emergency.
It’s not as bad as you think.
While the volume of your baby’s cry to you is at decibel 10, to everyone else, it’s just a bit annoying or distracting. I soon realized that since my baby was facing me in the stroller, I bore the brunt of her screaming. My mantra to get through the cries? It’s not that bad, it’s not that bad, it’s not that bad. Believe me, it works!
Christine Knight is an Australian expat and mother of one enthusiastic toddler. Now living in Brooklyn, NY, she is co-founder of brunchwithmybaby.com, a site dedicated to helping parents navigate the NYC and Sydney food scenes with their offspring.