Infant Crying

Overview

Crying is your baby's first way of communicating with you. This is how he or she lets you know about having a wet diaper, being hot or cold, or wanting to be fed. Teething, a recent shot, constipation, or a diaper rash can cause a baby to cry. Once your baby's need is met, the crying usually stops. However, some young children seem to cry for no reason. It is normal for a newborn to cry between 1 and 5 hours a day. Most babies cry less after they are 6 weeks old.

Caring for a baby can be stressful at times. You may have periods of feeling overwhelmed, especially if your baby is crying. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you cope with your emotions when the crying just does not stop. Then you can be with your baby in a loving and healthy way.

How can you soothe a crying baby?

Over time, you'll learn the difference in your baby's cries. Then you can take care of your baby's needs, and the crying will usually stop. To soothe a crying baby:

  • Change your baby's diaper if the diaper is dirty or wet.
  • Feed your baby if you think your baby is hungry. Try burping your baby.
  • Change your baby's clothes if you think your baby may be too cold or too warm.
  • Hold your baby close to your body. Try putting your baby in a front pack while you're doing chores.
  • Try swaddling. This simply means wrapping your baby in a blanket. Make the top part snug but not too tight. Keep the lower part loose so it doesn't harm baby's hips.

What is colic?

All babies cry, but sometimes a baby will cry for hours at a time, no matter what you do. This extreme type of crying in a baby between 3 weeks and 3 months of age is called colic. Although it is upsetting for parents and caregivers, colic is normal for some babies.

Doctors usually diagnose colic when a healthy baby cries more than expected: more than 3 hours a day more than 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks in a row. Colic is usually worst when babies are around 6 to 8 weeks of age and goes away on its own between 8 and 14 weeks of age.

It is common to feel scared, upset, or frustrated when you cannot get your baby to stop crying. But remember that colic is normal—and temporary. Your baby will grow out of it.

Credits

Current as of: August 3, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics