It sounds like the title of a horror movie: when baby shrieks. But this is no horror movie, this is our current reality. Our baby shrieks. Loudly. And in public.
He has just passed six months of age, so we are hoping that this is just another phase and not a long lasting event. Thankfully, it happens most often at home, although my husband had a rather embarrassing time of it on the last trip to the grocery store – while he was pushing baby in the stroller and pulling the cart behind him, our son was shrieking up a storm in the aisles, causing heads to turn and for many people to quickly get out of the way.
Most people say that the shrieking is a normal part of babies development and common at around six to eight months of age. It can be chalked up to discomfort, inability to communicate, or even happiness – many babies will shriek and then smile or laugh. Others say that it’s just a way for baby to communicate and to test out his or her lungs and vocal chords. Baby is seeing what he or she is capable of doing – and the reaction that Mom or Dad might give. (Of course, it’s always wise to check with your pediatrician to make sure that the shrieking or any other unusual behavior isn’t anything serious.)
Why does baby shriek?
When our baby starts shrieking, it’s usually because he is tired, hungry, uncomfortable or a combination of these. We’ve found a few ways to tone down the shrieks and calm him down.
- Food. A nursing session never fails to calm down my baby. Sometimes even just a few minutes helps him to relax and calm down.
- Distraction. Sometimes baby will complain due to overstimulation or simply boredom. Try giving him or her something else to do – put him down on the (clean) floor to explore and see things from a different angle; put him in the Bumbo seat or infant carrier/car seat or baby swing; or give her a new toy to play with.
- Motion. For many babies, motion is soothing. We have found that our little one relaxes from swinging or other movement, such as a ride in the car or in his stroller. In fact, many times the motion will relax him so much that he will fall asleep.
A shrieking baby can be disconcerting. However, it isn’t necessarily something to worry about – and, most times, a few simple actions can calm him.