All babies cry, and some more than others. Crying is your child's way of revealing to you that they need comfort and care.

Sometimes it's difficult to work out what they want, and sometimes it's easy.

The most common explanations behind crying are:

  • hunger
  • a dirty nappy
  • tiredness
  • needing a cuddle
  • wind
  • being too hot or too cold
  • boredom
  • overstimulation

There might be times of the day when your infant will cry a great deal and can't be comforted. Early evening is the most common time for this to occur.

This can be hard for you, as it's when you're also worn out and least ready to deal with it.


How to soothe a crying baby

Try these approaches to comfort your infant. Some may work better than others:

  • If you are breastfeeding, let your child suckle at your breast.
  • Play some soft music in the background.
  • Some infants like to touch a blanket to sooth themselves.
  • Hold your infant or carry them in a sling so they're near you. Move about delicately, sway, dance and talk with them.
  • Rock your baby backwards and forwards in a pram, or go out for a walk or a drive. 
  • Find something for them to tune in to. This could be music on the radio, a rattle, or a mobile hanging over the cot.
  • Stroke your child's back gently, holding them against you or lying face downwards on your lap.
  • Massage your baby's skin tenderly. Do not use massage oil until they are at least a month old, and ensure the room is warm.
  • Try a warm bath. Sometimes this will shock a baby into crying more, so take care.

Crying during feeding

Some infants cry when they are being feed. In case you're breastfeeding, try settling them into a more comfortable position.

Crying during feeding can be a side effect of reflux, a common condition where children bring back milk after feeds.

Ask your doctor for more information and guidance.


If your baby cries excessively

It can be exhausting to try to comfort your baby when nothing seems to work.


Over the top crying could be a sign that your infant has colic. 

Some doctors believe it's a type of stomach cramp. The crying sounds miserable and distressing, and stops for a minute or two, and fires up once more, which indicates that it could be brought about by waves of stomach pain.

The crying can continue for hours, and there might be little you can do apart from comforting your child and waiting for the crying to pass.

Crying and illness 

If your baby is crying continually and you can't console them, or their cry doesn't sound like normal, it might be a sign that they're sick.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor.

  • has a seizure or spasm
  • has blue, mottled, ashen or exceptionally fair skin
  • breathes quickly or makes a throaty sounds while breathing, or seems to have difficulty breathing, maybe sucking in their stomach under their ribcage
  • has a high temperature, however their hands and feet feel cold
  • has a spotty purple-red rash anywhere on the body – this could be an indication of meningitis

Trust your instincts. You know what's worrying behaviour in your child.


Getting help with a crying baby

When you talk with your doctor, it can be valuable to track how often and at what times your baby cries.

This may be after each feed or during the night. This can help your doctor to work out if there's a specific reason for the crying.

Keeping a record can help you with recognising the times when you need additional help. You could consider potential changes to your routine.

There might be times when you're so drained and angry that you think that you can't take any more. This happens to a lot of parents, so don't be ashamed to ask for help.

If the crying is making you stressed, and you don't have anyone who can take care of your baby for a short time, put your baby in their cot, make sure they're safe, close the door, head into another room and calm yourself down.

Give yourself about 10 minutes, then go back.

Never shake your baby

Shaking moves their head violently and can cause brain damage. No matter how frustrated you feel, you must never shake your baby.

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