Why your baby may be crying, and tips for soothing

If the crying makes you tense, it's OK to take a little break

Very tired sleepy baby sitting in a warm sheepskin stroller foot muff.

Babies cry to communicate their needs. When you know what your baby needs, it is easier to calm the crying. 

Decoding the cry

How can you tell what your baby may be telling you? Is your baby:

  • Hungry? A smacking of the lips or a turning of the head toward your hand while you stroke your baby’s cheek can be a sign of hunger.
  • Tired? Newborns sleep up to 16 hours or more a day. Babies cry when they get overtired. It can be hard to get an overtired baby to sleep.
  • Needing a diaper change? Some babies are sensitive to a wet or soiled diaper. Check your baby’s diaper often to ensure it is clean and dry.
  • Lonely? Your baby may just want to be held.
  • Having tummy troubles? If you notice your baby becomes fussy right after being fed, your baby may be experiencing tummy pain. Call your baby’s health care provider to discuss your baby’s symptoms.
  • Teething? Teething typically starts between 4 and 7 months old. It may occur earlier.
  • Other, not so obvious, reasons babies cry: Growth spurt, learning coordination of a bowel movement, reflux, dairy/milk intolerance or infection.

Soothing your baby

If you ruled out the above needs, maybe your baby just needs calming and comfort. There are several ways to calm your baby. Be patient finding the one that works best for you and your baby.

  • Rocking. Movements like rocking or standing up and gently swaying your baby back and forth can help sooth your baby.
  • White noise. A soothing “shhh” sound can be calming to your baby as it sounds like the swishing noise that surrounded your baby in the womb.
  • Skin to skin. Your baby may stop crying when feeling his or her skin on yours.
  • Watching a mobile spin with music playing may relax your baby.
  • Offer a pacifier. Sucking helps your baby relax into a state of calm.
  • Swaddling can recreate the safe and cozy feeling of the womb. It is recommended to not swaddle babies older than 2 months old.

Calm yourself

If your baby’s crying is making you tense, lay your baby down in the crib on his or her back and walk away for 5-10 minutes. Take some deep breaths to relax. When you are tense, your baby can feel it and the crying may intensify.

Peak times of crying

For some babies it is common for crying to intensify at about 6 weeks old. Learn more about purple crying.

Call your baby’s health care provider if you have further questions or concerns regarding your baby’s crying, especially if your baby shows ongoing signs of distress.

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Posted In Children's, Parenting

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