Can We Get This?
"Crybaby Ambulance" In Europe Will Help Exhausted Parents
Services from the “Schreibaby Ambulanz” are available throughout Germany, as well as in Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
Any new parent expects a baby to cry — it’s just part of the whole “having a baby” gig. But, sometimes, even the most patient and steadfast parent can get frazzled by the volume, frequency, and duration of a child’s wailing. If you’re lucky enough to live in parts of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, you can call for help.
The “Schreibaby Ambulanz” — or “Crybaby Outpatient Clinic” — aims to rescue parents from “unspeakable hardships and unprecedented exhaustion.” It has been around for more than 20 years in Europe, but recently came to American attention via a tweet from Twitter user @darafieldsTX (which has now been made private). “There is a Crying Baby Ambulance in Berlin,” they write. “If your baby is crying too much & you are just done, they come to you, check on you emotionally, & give advice. They have groups & an out patient clinic with regular follow up for the family. This should exist in all communities.”
Despite what English speakers might think, the Schreibaby Ambulanz is, sadly, not an ambulance, but more of a clinic. (Fun fact: the German word for ambulance is is Krankenwagen or “sick car.” Which is amusing to say when you’re losing your mind because your crying baby refuses to be soothed.) In an interview with Süeddeutsche Zeitung, Angela Breder-Michael, a social worker who runs the clinics alongside psychologist Nina Sulzbach, says that name is also misleading in that it’s not just for crying babies or even baby babies. While the staff of social workers, teachers, and psychologists are certainly on-hand to help with colicky or otherwise shriek-y infants, they can also assist struggling parents with any problem that might be facing children from birth to 21 — from feeding and sleep to kindergarten, puberty, and beyond.
When parents call, staff ask about the urgency of the situation, but everyone is guaranteed an appointment within 48 hours. During the first session, Breder-Michael explains, parents will be asked about the problem, their goals, and are given tools on “how best to continue.” Of course, as one might imagine for a service with “Crybaby” in the title, fussy infants (and their exhausted parents) are among the most common visitors.
The Ambulanz uses a method it calls body-oriented crisis support, with an emphasis on encouraging parents to trust their instincts, teaching them techniques to promote individual solutions to common problems, and showing them how to physically pull themselves out of a “stress spiral.”
Testimony from “graduates” of the Ambulanz, who cheekily refer to themselves as “Scream Queens,” are powerful and, for many new parents, probably extremely familiar. They talk about calling the clinic while struggling with feelings of hopelessness, depression, exhaustion, anger, and fear. They also give an idea of what an appointment for a “crybaby” might look like.
“As a matter of course, our little screamer was taken away from us, carried, massaged, stroked until our child had finally calmed down,” writes O.H. “From the beginning we had trust, our feelings and fears were understood for the first time: we were not alone, there were actually other crying babies and crying parents. The most important thing: we didn't do anything wrong. Our own needs were brought to the fore for a few moments during the crisis support hours, we were able to recharge our batteries, take valuable tools with us for everyday life, and breathe deeply. We were empowered, the guilt was taken away from us, we learned an incredible amount about our child and ourselves.”