Crying baby

Unbearable for the parents

The constant crying of a baby is probably the most difficult aspect to understand and to resolve for parents, This mainly concerns mothers, although not exclusively and more so when it is the first child. Crying is often one of the only ways that a baby can communicate.
Parents must learn to accept the idea, that it is perfectly normal for a baby to cry occasionally.
However, parents can struggle with this concept wanting their baby to be perfect and never cry.

Parents should not feel guilty to see and hear their baby crying

Circumstances that might explain the baby crying

It is important to understand above all crying is a baby's means of expressing itself and that in the vast majority of cases, crying is not an abnormal expression.
Crying can have, many causes, but in most cases the causes are benign and should not raise undue concerns
Many paediatricians and psychologists agree that a baby that cries is generally a normal healthy sign.

It is difficult to completely distinguish if the cries of a baby are that of suffering, either medical or psychological, or if on the other hand they simply represent a means by which the baby is trying to draw the attention of its mother.

Up to about 2-3 months, a baby may sometimes cry several hours each day, up to 3 hours. The duration of the crying then typically decreases as the months advance

Not all the different and varied circumstances why a baby cries can be described in this short presentation but here are some of the most important ones:
  • Baby is hungry
  • Baby is thirsty
  • Baby is bored, needing stimulation and someone to take notice of him / her
  • Baby needs to bring up wind
  • Baby has difficulty digesting its food
  • Baby has colic: digestive disorders can sometimes bring about extreme crying that may worry the parents.
  • Baby is tired
  • Baby is in pain
  • Baby has fever
  • Baby is unhappy
  • Baby has a dirty nappy
  • Baby is teething
  • The baby may also cry when it is very happy
  • When the baby is too hot
  • When it is covered with too many blankets or clothing
  • When it needs to be active and expend energy
  • When it is angry
  • When it is sad
  • When it is afraid and feels neglected
  • When it senses that the mother is anxious or depressed. "Baby-blues" and the post-natal depression can also be the cause of crying.
  • When it is anxious as night-time approaches

How to calm the baby's crying?

Babies sense the anxiety in their parents, in particular the mother, and it will only worry them and worsen their crying. Therefore, remain calm, avoid fretting unduly and try not to become obsessed by the baby's crying.

It is essential to reassure the baby, thus relieving it's anxiety.
Following your instincts and review the list below;

  • Picking the baby up in your arms and gently rocking rocking it, avoiding sudden and jerky movements.
  • Giving the baby a hug to reassure her
  • Carry her
  • Be patient with her
  • Rock her gently in her cradle or in your arms
  • Play with her
  • Take her for a walk in the pram or baby carrier
  • Talk and whisper to her softly
  • Sing to her
  • Play calming music to her
  • Give her a bath, even outside of her scheduled time
  • Gently massage her back and tummy
  • Let her move about, kicking her leg
  • Be relaxed in order to reassure her
  • Breast or bottle feed if she cries through hunger. And, if necessary, shorten the interval between two feeds without waiting for the usual scheduled feed time.
  • Ensure that the room temperature does not exceed 20 degrees
  • Check the nappy, change it and ensure that her bottom is not sore
  • Gently massage her tummy if suffering from colic
  • Check that she does not have fever

Try to not breakdown if the baby cries incessantly, and when trying to calm her never shake her violently thus avoiding "shaken baby syndrome"

Medicines intended to alleviate pain or calm a crying baby are not recommended.

Situations in which it is necessary to consult a doctor

After having checked the above causes for crying, it will sometimes be necessary to consult a doctor.
The doctor's advice will almost certainly reassure the parents and will help identify any medical cause to the crying.

Medical reasons

  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Bouts of coughing
  • Bouts of bringing up food non-exhaustive list.

Psychological reasons

Crying babies can also be anxious especially if the mother is nervous and anxious. In some cases a constantly crying baby can put a strain on parents and family life causing parents to become irritated and angry which will only worsen the situation as well as the crying baby.

It is sometimes necessary, on the advice of your GP, to seek the opinion of a specialist, a child psychiatrist or psychologist, who will be better able to assess and hopefully defuse the situation which otherwise risk worsening family relationships.
Keep in mind that the baby feels all the anxieties of the mother.
Talkiing to a specialist often helps the parents and, of course, the baby .

Simple message: faced with a child of less than three months who cries a lot without apparent reason and who has, in addition, a fever of 38° or changes in their behaviour, it is necessary to consult a doctor without delay.

For further information

NHS Baby health AZ.
Health advice on baby cries
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