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Crying Baby

Crying is normal and healthy for a baby. Give yourself time to get to know your baby. In a few weeks, you will get better at knowing what causes your baby to cry and what will help him to stop.

Soon you will be able to tell hungry cries from boredom cries, and hurt cries from angry cries. There will still be times when your baby will cry and you will not know why.

Why is my baby crying?

When your baby cries, check for causes such as:

HUNGER: Your baby may be hungry, so try feeding first. Newborns need to be fed every 2 hours for about 20 minutes at a time. The feedings provide comfort and closeness as well as keeping your baby's tummy full. If your baby is not hungry, sucking on a pacifier or a finger (his or yours) can relax your baby and help put him to sleep.

If you are breastfeeding, your baby can react to things that you eat that pass into breast milk. To see if a certain food or drink upsets your baby, avoid that food or drink for a couple of weeks before you try it again.

DISCOMFORT: Look for things that may make your baby uncomfortable, such as:

  • Diapers: Check to see if he has a wet or soiled diaper. If your baby wears cloth diapers, check to see if a diaper pin is sticking him.
  • Gas: check to see if your baby needs to burp. To burp your baby, support his head with your hand. Place him over your shoulder or lay him on his tummy across your knees. You can also sit him up in your lap as you support his chest and head. Rub or pat his back gently.
  • Temperature: Your baby may be too hot or too cold.
  • Illness: If your child is sick, there are usually other signs, such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, or a stuffy nose. Your healthcare provider should check your baby if you are worried that something is wrong.
  • Injury: Sometimes your baby can get scratched or pinched. Check clothing to see if it is too tight. Check fingers and toes to make sure a hair or thread has not gotten wrapped tightly around a toe or finger. Also make sure clothing is not too tight or too short for his legs.

OVER-STIMULATION: Too much playing and handling can make your baby too tired and cause crying. During the night, keep your baby calm by feeding and changing him in a quiet place away from bright lights and the TV. Some babies like the secure feeling of being tightly swaddled in a blanket.

Quiet music, gentle rocking, soft singing, or talking may help. You might also try a warm bath or a gentle massage. A steady sound (white noise) such as a fan, a dishwasher, clothes dryer, or a vacuum cleaner may calm your baby. Your baby can tell when you are tense and may also get tense and cry. It helps if you can stay relaxed.

BOREDOM: Crying can also mean that your baby wants a change in scenery or activity.

  • Pick your baby up, hold him and comfort him. Look into his face and talk softly to him. Your baby needs a lot of love, cuddling and holding. Do not be afraid of spoiling your baby - young babies cannot be spoiled.
  • Try playing lively music, dancing with your baby in your arms, or giving your baby a rattle or other toy.
  • Car or stroller rides often work wonders for a crying baby and for parents as well. A baby swing may also work.
  • Walking your baby from room to room may help. Babies love to see the sights and to be held close in someone's arms.
  • Try putting your baby in a front pack. This lets your baby stay close and frees up your hands so that you can do things. (While this can help keep your baby from crying, it can injure your back, so don't overdo it.)

COLIC: Colic is when a baby cries more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week. The crying usually happens around the same time each day. Most babies outgrow colic by 3 to 4 months of age.

Keep track of feeding, sleep, when your baby starts to cry, and for how long. Talk with your healthcare provider about these patterns.

Sometimes you just need to let your baby cry himself to sleep. It’s OK to let your child cry for 10 or 15 minutes as long as you have made sure he is in a safe place and has been fed, burped, and changed.

What if I can’t take it anymore?

If your baby is crying and you are very tired or angry enough that you are afraid you might hurt your baby, put him down in a safe place and call someone. Ask a spouse, friend, neighbor, or relative to give you a break when you need it.

NEVER shake or hurt your baby.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-07
Last reviewed: 2014-10-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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