Most new moms feel that have no clue why their babies’ crying.
Is my baby hungry? Is he/she well or feel pains? Are the nappy dirty? Is it too cold or too warm? Is the baby uncomfortable?
It could be because of many different reasons.
Below article has the objective to answer some of your questions and help you dealing with a crying baby.
Is your baby 3-months old or less and has the following symptoms?
- Is crying the only symptom?
- You don't know why is crying?
If yes, please read the article below.
Causes of Unexplained Crying
If a baby could talk, he/she may say: “Mommy, I need your attention because”:
- “I’m hungry”: This is the most common reason babies are crying. They normally stop crying as soon as the feeding starts and, they’re happy by the end of the feeding.
- “I’m sleepy”: In this case, the baby needs the parent to put them in a comfortable position and after a little fuss, the baby falls asleep.
- “I eat too much”: When babies have a bloated stomach from overfeeding (too much milk) it can cause discomfort; normally, it lasts short periods of time.
- “I feel too hot/too cold”: Too cold or too hot causes discomfort.
- “The cloths are too tight”: Inability to move may cause pain or rushes.
- “The diapers are dirty”: Stool is very irritating to the skin and, if not cleaned, can cause pain and discomfort.
- “I fell not safe, I want to hear your voice”: That’s because during the first months (normally up to 3 months old), babies are overwhelmed and scared of what happens in this “new” world; after all, they spent months inside the dark and comfy womb. To feel safe, they need to hear a familiar voice.
Other reasons include:
- Caffeine in the milk: Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause sleeping problems; breastfeeding mothers must reduce their caffeine intake.
- Colic: This is the main cause of recurrent crying; if crying occurs over 2 to 3 hours per day, it's called colic.
What is a colic in babies:
- A lot of crying
- Usually consolable when held and comforted
- Normally happy between the crying sessions
- The baby is being fed regularly is not hungry
- The baby is not sick
- Normally goes away age of 3 to 5 months
What causes colic in babies?
Although it’s a very common case, colic is still poorly understood. Studies shows that even with often crying outbursts, babies still grow and gain weight normally. In addition, there’s no clear evidence yet if colic has any long-term effects to the baby’s health.
While the baby remains fine after colic episodes, mums, however, are working harder when comforting a colic baby. When persistent crying occurs, new mums feel helpless, some even cry because may feel they’re doing something wrong.
But don’t worry, thankfully, this phase will eventually pass within three to five months.
“How to soothe a normal or colic baby?” section will provide you with tips how to comfort a crying baby.
- Pain: Usually, painful causes include an earache, mouth ulcers, or a raw diaper rash. Babies with these types of causes cry a lot and are not happy when they are not crying. Best is to see a doctor to make a diagnosis. Please note that ⚠️ fever in this age group is serious and seek medical advice immediately.
Here are some myths about baby’s crying causes:
- Blaming gas is a myth. The gas comes from swallowed air, is passing through the intestines and does not cause pain or crying. That's why burping a baby doesn't help the crying.
- Spitting Up is also a myth. Spitting up is normal and occurs in most of babies; it does not cause crying or colic. ⚠️ Important note: heartburn meds do not help crying babies and could have serious side effects.
How to soothe a normal or colic baby?
What do you need to know about baby crying?
Normal crying: All normal babies have 1 to 2 hours of unexplained crying each day. As long as they are happy when they are not crying, no need to be worried, this is normal.
Colic crying: Some babies also cry over 3 hours per day. If growing normally and have a normal medical exam, the crying is called colic. Keep in mind that colic is due to your baby's temperament and has nothing to do with a medical disease. See baby colic remedies below.
How to help both types of crying:
- Feed formula-fed babies, every 2 hours or so; for breast-fed babies, baby may stop crying if fed after 1½ hours since the last feeding.
- Do not to feed your baby every time he/she cries as some babies cry because of a bloated stomach from overfeeding. When your baby turns the head away it means he/she had had enough milk. ⚠️ It is not recommended to push your baby to finish what's in the bottle.
- If breastfeeding, decrease your caffeine intake. Limit your coffee, tea and energy drinks to 2 cups or 16 ounces / 500 ml per day.
- Hold and Comfort your Baby:
- Simply hold and try to calm your baby whenever cries without a reason, he/she may need some attention.
- Hold the baby flat to help relax and go to sleep.
- Some babies calm best with short movements like vibrations; rock your baby in a rocking chair, in a cradle or while standing.
- To distract the baby, take for a stroller ride.
- Try using a pacifier, massage, or warm bath.
- Swaddle the Baby in a Blanket:
- Swaddling proved to be an extremely helpful technique for calming crying babies.
- Use a large blanket (preferable square) and use the "burrito-wrap" technique:
- Step 1: Keep baby’s arms inside and straight at the sides.
- Step 2: Place one side of the blanket over the upper body and tuck.
- Step 3: Fold the bottom up with the knees a little flexed.
- Step 4: Place the other side over the upper body and tuck.
⚠️ Don't cover your baby's head or overheat your baby.
Stop using swaddling method when your baby shows signs of rolling over. When about 2 months, transfer to a sleeping bag with the arms out.
- Use White Noise:
- Constant low-pitched white noise (e.g. fan, CD or other constant sound) combined with swaddling works well with some babies.
- Keep the white noise on any time your baby is crying.
⚠️ Be careful, too loud white noise my harm baby’s hearing.
Turn off the white sound if baby isn’t sleeping or crying so the baby listens and gets used with other sounds in the house.
- Let the Baby Falling Asleep on its Own:
- If 2 hours passed since the last nap, probably the baby needs to sleep.
- If you did all the above and nothing seems to help … it is time to get out of the way, for some babies this is the only answer: swaddle your baby, place him/her in the bad, turn on the white/soothing music ... and leave the room.
- Encourage Night-time Sleep:
- Try to keep your child awake during the daytime. If the baby napped 2 hours, gently wake him/her up. In this way it will reduce the amount of time your baby is awake during the night.
- Dealing with a newborn is sometimes difficult and frustrating…
- ⚠️ Never shake a baby, it will not stop him/her from crying. It only takes few seconds to cause brain damage and bleeding on the brain.
- ⚠️ Never leave your baby with someone who is immature or has a bad temper.
- ⚠️ If you are frustrated, put your baby down in a safe place and take a break until calm down.
- Ask help from a friend or a relative.
The above recommendations are also applicable for breastfed colic babies.
How Long Should I Let a Normal or Colic Baby Cry?
Earlier we mentioned that crying outbursts are normal and, in some occasions, may take up to several hours before the baby calms down.
In one hand, studies show that colic doesn’t indicate any underlying medical condition, or it doesn’t result to long-term effects to the baby’s health.
In the other hand, keep in mind that crying may signal that the baby experiences distress, discomfort, or pain. While crying is good because your baby somehow communicates its needs, ⚠️ it may be harmful if not receiving the attention or care he/she often needs.
It’s the reason you need to quickly attend to your baby when he/she cries, in particular during the first several months. Remember to be gentle and relaxed when soothing your baby because your mood has a significant impact on how he/she responds. Trying to rush it often makes it longer and more difficult … so be patient, keep it slow and steady and will likely get results faster.
Some mums allow their babies to cry for a while (let babies vent for some time). The main question is, how long should you allow this? Should you be worried about the potential long-term health of prolonged crying?
As discussed above, if everything looks normal, follow the steps described in “How to soothe a normal or colic baby?” section; these methods will work most of the time.
⚠️ Always remember that whenever cries, your baby needs or wants your immediate attention.
Although crying in babies is normal, there are times when you should call a doctor immediately.
When To Call The Doctor For Crying Baby
- When the baby is not moving or very weak
- When you think your baby has a life-threatening emergency
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
- Baby is age less than 1 month old and looks or acts abnormal in any way
- Age less than 3 months old with fever. Important note: ⚠️ do NOT give your baby any fever medicine before consulting with your doctor.
- Bulging or swollen soft spot
- Swollen scrotum or groin
- Cries when you touch or move your baby
- An injury
- Nonstop crying lasts more than 2 hours.
- Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
- You are afraid someone might hurt or shake your baby
- High-risk child (e.g. heart or brain disease)
- Your child looks or acts very sick
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Not gaining weight or seems hungry
- The baby will stop crying but cause of crying not clear.
- If you think your child needs to see a doctor, but the problem doesn’t seems to be urgent
- Your baby was never checked for excessive crying
- Crying occurs 3 or more times per day and unsure about the reason
Self-care at home
- Normal crying
- Colic – crying baby who can be consoled
How To Baby Sleep Training?
It is important to teach babies to fall asleep on themselves. This is good not only for the baby (to establish some sort of independence) but for the parents to get a good night rest too.
It will take time before the baby’s sleep pattern gets established, but your patience will be worthwhile.
In the early weeks, establish a feeding and sleeping routine (when and where your baby should fall asleep); this is the best way to provide some sort of predictability to your baby’s life. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect but this is far better than a totally unpredictable routine. Such routine makes it easier for your baby to get back to sleep after some crying.
When your baby is 6 weeks old (and already learned to cope with the environment), let him/her cry for a while before offering some comfort. How long is too long? Since this is “baby sleep training”, start small and build up as you go along.
In the beginning, let your baby crying for 2 to 3 minutes then, if wakes up leave the baby alone for 5 to 8 minutes. Second night, you start with 5 minutes and 8 to 10 min if your child’s sleep gets interrupted for the second time.
The goal here is to train your baby to get back to sleep on his or her own after some crying; gradually increase the time on the subsequent nights.
Please remember that on some occasions this approach won’t work, and you’ll have to start from zero; wait a few days then try again.
The Best Part Having a Baby
It is normal for new mums to feel clueless whenever their newborns cry … But it’s all temporary. By 4-5 months old and beyond, your child will have a more predictable pattern and routine. Life becomes easier as the daily routine will focus more on playtime rather than the unpredictable crying episodes.
Having a newborn is exhausting, there is no doubt about it … but at the same time is so awesome: make this a wonderful experience and enjoy the smell of your baby, the moments when feel his/her heartbeat as sleeps on your chest, watching your baby’s facial expressions as he dreams … you’ll cherish these moments forever and make you so proud of what you achieve.
⚠️ Important to remember: contact your doctor if your child develops any of the “When To Call The Doctor For Crying Baby” symptoms.
⚠️ Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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