Why Do Babies Cry?
Babies cry for so many reasons and as new parents we often panic not knowing what each cry means or is about. Especially in the first year of your baby’s life. It can be so many things including colic, hunger, needing to be soothed and so much more. Well have no fear. We are here to explain the most common reasons why babies cry!
One of the main reasons your baby will cry is due to hunger. This is especially true if they are a newborn. With no other way to communicate their hunger, they will let out a shriek and cry to let you know it’s time for a feeding! If you are breastfeeding you can feed on demand, whereby you feed your baby whenever they cry and seem hungry, or you can feed according to a set schedule. Breast milk is less filling than formula, so they may need to be fed more often.
Your baby may whine or cry when they are tired. As soon as you observe cues such as eye rubbing and irritability, aim to get them down for a nap asap. Or get them to sleep to avoid them being overtired as this may inhibit their ability to sleep. For sleep help, check out the top things that disturb baby’s sleep and find out how to correct them.
Your baby might be crying because they have a wet or dirty diaper. Try to change the diaper immediately to avoid diaper rash and get your baby dry and soothed as soon as possible!
Your baby might be cutting some new teeth which can oftentimes be very painful. Babies generally develop their first teeth between 6 and 12 months of age. Try to ease their pain by massaging their gums or offering them a cold teething toy.
Oftentimes babies cry when they are gassy and need to be burped. Pat or rub your baby’s back intermittently throughout a feeding or right after feeding in order to avoid gas pains.
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You may find that your baby cries when they need affection or cuddling. Babies like to be reassured that they are safe through close contact. Hold or rock your baby when they cry for comfort, or consider wearing your baby in a sling or carrier.
Babies often run hot and can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively as older kids or adults. Your baby will let you know with a cry if they are too hot or too cold. Be careful not to overdress or underdress your baby.
Your baby will let you know that they aren’t feeling well through their cries. If they are running a fever, they may be lethargic and their cries might be weaker. Babies often cry when they have a cold and if they are congested or their throat hurts. Consult a doctor if you notice your baby seems sick or not their usual self. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should call the doctor for any fever in an infant under 3 months old. If your baby is 3-6 months old and has a temperature of 102 F or higher, call the doctor. If your baby is 6-12 months old and has a fever of 102F or higher that lasts longer than one day, contact your doctor.
According to What to Expect, colic is designed by the “rules of three”. Your baby’s crying:
- Lasts at least three hours at a stretch
- Occurs at least three days a week
- Persists for at least three weeks in a row
Colicky crying usually peaks at 6 weeks and is generally gone by 3 months of age. Try to comfort your baby by creating a calm environment with white noise, swaddling and offering a pacifier. You can also talk to your pediatrician for more advice.
Ways To Soothe Your Baby
With so many reasons why a baby might be crying, parents will need to offer suitable solutions to soothe their little ones. According to pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, the key to soothing a crying, fussy baby is to follow the 5 S’s. Keep in mind that Karp’s recommends this method for babies in the first 4 months of life.
1. The 1st S: Swaddle
Swaddling recreates the snug packaging that a baby feels inside the womb and creates a calm environment. It also decreases the startle reflex and increases sleep success since your baby’s arms are swaddled at their sides.
2. The 2nd S: Side or Stomach Position
The back is the only safe position for sleeping, and unfortunately, it’s the worst position for calming a fussy infant. You can calm your baby by holding them on their side, stomach or over your shoulder while they are snug in a tight swaddle.
3. The 3rd S: Shush
Recreate the shushing sound of blood flow that your baby was familiar with hearing while they were in the womb. You can do this by using a white noise machine that has a consistent shushing sound. This will provide calming comfort for your fussy baby. If you don’t have a white noise machine, you can make a shushing sound near the baby’s ear.
4. The 4th S: Swing
Rock your baby using fast, tiny motions to soothe a crying infant. Support the head and neck and keep your motions small. Be sure to move no more than 1 inch back and forth. This rocking motion is a very effective method for soothing your baby.
5. The 5th S: Suck
Many fussy babies relax into a deep tranquility when they engage in a sucking motion. A pacifier will help calm your baby in no time!
Jennifer O’Neill is an Independent Quality Provider with BabyQuip, helping families travel lighter and happier. She is a mother of two boys and enjoys working out, spending time with family and friends and of course, traveling.