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crying baby

Crying baby: How much crying is normal and why babies cry?

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In the first months of life, babies can’t state their needs with words, but they most certainly are communicating. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you and learning to understand the different types of cries will make for a happier baby and calmer parents.

Through careful observation, you will eventually be able to identify your baby’s specific needs according to the style of crying.

 Different situations, different cries

  • Hunger: As a newborn, your baby will cry most frequently due to hunger. A newborn’s stomach is less than one inch wide. Since this tiny tummy fills up quickly, newborns must be fed frequently. Your baby’s hungry crying will be accompanied by side-to-side head movements or rooting (breast seeking). Older babies may gnaw or suck at their hands and produce rhythmic strong cries. A hungry baby usually cannot be distracted for long.
  • Discomfort: A wet or dirty diaper, heat, or cold all make your baby uncomfortable. This type of crying is typically softer and intermittent. Whining and crying may stop briefly and then begin again when the baby is uncomfortable, and it’s possible to distract them briefly with toys, caresses, or movement.
  • Sleep or fatigue: A sleepy baby usually cries before falling asleep on their own. To find out if it’s a sleepy cry, look for tightly closed eyes or yawning. Listen for a low cry that intensifies and then dies down again. 
  • Pain: A baby may experience pain from an illness or an external impact, but most of your baby’s pains will be associated with gas, constipation, or teething. Cries of pain are typically intense and rhythmic; your child shows their distress with a sad face and lots of leg and arm movements.
  • Boredom, annoyance, and overstimulation: Babies have mood swings just like the rest of us. This cry is typically whiny, nasal, and builds up slowly. When your baby is crying in this manner and you’ve ruled out other reasons, it’s possible to distract your child with songs, toys, movement, or even let them cry for a bit to release tension.

Babies are born with different temperaments. Some cry easily and often, while others are happy and calm in almost any circumstance. What’s important is to be attuned to your baby’s own patterns and types of crying. Years ago, it was acceptable to let babies cry for extended periods of time to avoid spoiling them and to “exercise the lungs”. More recent research supports more responsive parenting, understanding the needs of the baby, and keeping them as comfortable as possible.

According to M.D and author Harvey Karp, recent research shows that timely containment and comfort enhance neurological development, reduce feeding and sleep difficulties, and promote the capacity for future emotional self-regulation. In these studies, it was noted that babies who spent more time in contact with parents reduced their episodes of crying by approximately 50 percent.

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How to manage crying?

During the first months, the best way to handle crying is to attend your baby immediately every time they cry. 

However, as your child gets older and before they start talking, you can vary your approach to crying. Of course, it’s important to always attend to basic needs first: check for signs of hunger or thirst, wet or dirty diapers, fever, hot or cold body temperature, or any external source of pain. If these basic needs are covered, you can calm your crying baby with any of the following actions:

  • Pat your little one on the tummy or back, making soft sounds, and verbalize what you think they may be feeling.
  • Sucking motions are also calming, a pacifier or the baby’s own little hand sometimes does the trick.
  • Swaddle your baby and turn on white noise, such as a hairdryer or hand vacuum.
  • Carry your baby in your arms, rock them, or take a short walk in the stroller or baby carrier.
  • Entertain your child by playing with toys, a rattle, or other objects. 
  • Sing or play some music, that usually calms a baby.

When nothing works…

If you’ve tried everything, eliminated the possibility of pain, illness, or injury, and your baby still won’t stop crying, it’s time to take a break. Put them in a safe spot and read a magazine, drink a cup of tea, or ask your partner for help. Reassure your baby that you’re listening and close by, and they may even self-soothe or fall asleep. A crying baby is not a reflection on your parenting. If you’re meeting your baby’s needs, try to relax and focus on enjoying all those times your little one isn’t crying.

Would you like to know more about each of the stages of your child’s development? Download Kinedu! This app allows you to better understand your baby’s milestones and offers personalized activities to support them in all areas of development.

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46 thoughts on “Crying baby: How much crying is normal and why babies cry?”

  1. My baby will is almost 8months and hasn’t started crawling though she sits unsupported is it normal?

    1. Hi, Belinda! Each baby develops at his or her own pace. Some never actually crawl in a traditional manner. What’s important is that they move to explore and learn from their surroundings. Now, of course you can keep stimulating your baby to crawl on her hands and knees. To do so, help your baby to spend time playing on tummy. Try this on different surfaces, at different times of day, and use bright and interesting toys to keep her entertained. Also, you can put your baby’s hands and knees and push a little from behind.

  2. Hi
    My baby is 3weeks now. My pediatrician to me I should feed him in every 2 hours for 30 minutes, 15 minutes on each breast. The problem is my baby feeds less than five minutes and the interval is also less than 2 hours… should I be worried?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Dorothy! It is expected that your baby nurses from 8-12 times during a day. Every baby is different and not all of them, and you and your baby are still getting used to each other and learning to nurse. After the first 6-12 weeks, most babies more settled and can have a more predictable routine. What is most important is that your baby is getting enough milk and there are 3 tips to know this: the weight and size of your baby, his skin color (it shouldn’t be yellowish), and the amount of diapers he wets per day.

  3. Please I need help my baby will be a month old by Sunday, and since I gave birth to her she didn’t sleep at night! She only sleep when it’s morning, but she didn’t cry she will just open her eyes for you to give her attention!

    1. Hi Bernardine! Newborns have pretty erratic sleep schedules, they’re still getting used to life out of the womb. The important thing is that your baby is growing at a healthy pace, getting enough sleep and resting well. Visit our “Sleep” section for more articles =)

        1. Hello Neliswa! First of all it is important to determine the cause of your sore nipples. We suggest you visit a specialist, so he or she can give you specific recommendations =)

        1. Hi Tina! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) assures that babies should sleep on their backs at nighttime and during naps until their first birthday.

  4. My baby is 3 months old and not getting enough weight. The pediatrician recommended a formula after each breast feeding. But my baby doesn’t drink it and refuses the bottle too.tried with different soothers but didn’t work. Please help me with this m Thanks

    1. Hello Pavini, don’t worry, your baby is learning to adapt to the bottle and it may take some time. Make the introduction to the bottle gradually and let your baby explore it. Also, try to first complement your breastfeeding with the formula in a moment that is not part of a very important routine (such as the sleep routine), and after your baby gets familiarized, you will be able to do it in other moments.

  5. Good Day, my baby will be 3months on 28th I’m having trouble for making him sleep. after feeding he should be sleeping, but he will cry he wants to be pick up he won’t sleep in the bed or in the crib. he wants he will be carried in the arms then you will put him down he will be awake and cry again. he wants to be carried most of the time that’s make him stop crying and make him sleep

    1. Hi Angelie! Your baby has learned to associate sleeping with being carried, so you may want to teach your baby to sleep in his crib after a soothing bedtime routine. The best moment to leave him in the crib is when he is calm but awake. Try switching which parent puts him to sleep. You can carry him until he is calm and then place him into bed. You may rest your hand in his belly and touch him if he needs extra calming.

    1. Hi Poom! We suggest you to talk with your pediatrician about it. He or she can evaluate your baby and give you the best recommendations.

    1. Hi Noushrine! We have a few articles about sleep and getting your baby to sleep in our catalog. Take a look in the “Sleep” section.

      1. Hi my 11 weeks baby doesn’t make poo everyday and he cries alot .. and that may 2 to 3 days . what might be problem

        1. Hello Seipati! Every baby is different. Some babies can go 1-2 days without doing. Even some babies who drink breast milk may spend several days, even a week without doing. Using each drop of milk for its growth. In addition to this, you can notice these signs to know if your baby is constipated: he is too restless, spits the milk more than before, his stools are harder, he bids for more than 10 minutes without having success. If you notice some of these signs, we suggest you talk to your pediatrician to find out the best way to help your baby.

    2. Hi, my baby use to cry alot too. All to find out he was colic. He is 5 months now and is much better now and cries only when he is bored, hungry or tired. Check maybe for signs of bloatedness it miggt be a gas situation. In case baby’s tummy is bloated rub softly in clockwise circles around the belly button followed by bicycle kicks and press the knees softly to the belly to relieve gas. It takesba few times before it works but don’t put too much pressure on babies legs or tummy. Oh andba goodbtip isbto keep baby’s tummy warm , not hot just warm. My baby use to fall asleep on my chest on his tummy and he would sleep well like that i use to catch a nap with him sometimes or just watch a story. If that still don’t work try and swaddle your baby and let baby lay with his ear on your chest so he/she can hear your heart beat. It is a very soothing sound for them.

      Depending on the age of your baby he might have ichy gums get something like Teejel gel or something just to soothe him or her.

      If you think you can’t handle the crying anymore, best is to put baby in crib and just take a breather andbtry again. If the crying persist rather go and see your pediatrician.

      Best of luck and hope all goes well. Please let me know what worked 😉

        1. Hi Karishma! Baby acne is actually common and usually appears within the first two to four weeks after birth. Don’t worry, it is temporary and should clear up on its own within three to four months. Although it is not clear what exactly causes baby acne, it’s important that you make sure the soap you use is hypoallergenic, unscented baby soap (and don’t use it every time). Also, make sure the towel you use has been completely rinsed after washing it so that your baby is not exposed to harsh chemicals from detergents. If you have any concerns at all, it’s always a good idea to consult with your pediatrician =)

    1. Hello Mitasri! Check the signs that tell you your baby is still hungry and see if you are producing enough milk. We have 3 reliable tips for this: the weight and size of your baby, the color of your baby’s skin (which is not very yellow), and the amount of diapers that he or she wets every day. If you still feel mother milk is not being sufficient we recommend you to talk with your pediatrician about other options of how to produce more milk or if you can include formula in your baby’s diet.

      1. I read your previous replies to people’s comment and you made mention of not giving water if been breast fed or given formula, but what if the baby starts constipating, what should be done? Thanks

        1. Hello Ella! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that you can give your baby a little bit of apple or pear juice. But first, we recommend you to talk with your pediatrician to know the best option for your baby.

    2. Hi. I believed mother’s milk or simply breastmilk production is psychological. According to a breastfeeding advocate I know said you should never think that you don’t give enough milk to your lo. I would highly suggest you mix moringa powder to your hot drinks. In my experience, moringa powder makes my breastmilk production more and more.

        1. Hello Debe! The normal colors for poop are green, yellow and brown. It is necessary to consult with your pediatrician if his poop is black, red or white.

    1. Hi Vashney! Newborn babies do not need water, only the amount needed for the formula (if that’s the case). The number of nutrients will be reduced if extra water is added. Babies can start drinking sips of water around 6 months when they also start with the introduction of solid foods.

      1. In what way did nutrient will reduced if you give water to a baby below 6months? My baby is 2month old,his pedia allow us to give him a water every feeding

        1. Hello Jessa, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not giving water to a newborn baby when he/she is still being fed only by milk (breasfeed or formula). In some cases it can lead to water intoxication or disturbance of the electrolyte balances. There are always variations based on individual circumstances of each baby, so you can follow your pediatrician recommendations.

          1. Hello Margaret! Each baby is different so you can try it and see how your baby responds. Also, we suggest you to talk with your pediatrician, so he or she can give you the best recommendations.

      1. Hi Shanyl! Breast milk provides antibodies to the baby that help fight the illness and is easy to digest. Also, it has liquids to keep your baby hydrated, concentrated nutrients and it offers comfort.

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