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Your Crying Baby

Baby Basics

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Updated February 08, 2006

Updated February 08, 2006
Parents, even first time parents, expect their new babies to cry sometimes.

Most parents aren't prepared for the fact that they may have to cope with a crying baby for two or three hours a day though!

Fortunately, most of that crying is not continuous. Even when it is isn't, it can still seem like your baby is crying all of the time and that something is wrong with your baby.

Your Crying Baby

Why do babies cry?

One of the main reasons is that it is really their only way to communicate with us, so they cry when they are hungry, cold, tired, or need to be changed. So one way to help your crying baby could be to anticipate these needs and quickly respond to them. Remember that you really can't spoil your newborn baby, so don't worry about picking him up right away or that you are holding him too much.

More frustrating though is when your baby cries for no reason at all, for example, when he is well fed, has a dry diaper, and just had a nap.

So why is he crying now?

Colic

For the average crying baby, who is crying for no obvious reason, especially if it is at a certain time of day and for a few hours at a time, colic is often to blame. Colic is even more likely if the crying periods began when your baby was about two weeks old, peaked when he was around six weeks old, and had gone away when he was three or four months old.

Although often blamed on digestive problems or formula allergies, colic is likely a normal developmental stage that some newborns go though. Some experts describe it as a baby's way of blowing off steam.

Crying Too Much

How do you know if your baby is crying too much?

The first step is to simply trust your instincts and see your Pediatrician if you think your baby is crying too much. Even if your crying baby is totally normal, some reassurance will help you to feel better.

Otherwise, look for some of these signs and symptoms that might indicate that your baby's crying might be caused by a 'real' problem, including:

  • having a fever, cough, and/or runny nose
  • crying during or right after feedings
  • really crying all of the time and for more than three hours a day
  • having reflux or spitting up a lot
  • having gas, diarrhea, or foul smelling stools
  • losing weight or not gaining weight normally
  • having bloody stools
These could be symptoms of an infection, reflux, or formula allergy. Even breast feeding babies can have food allergies if they have a problem with something mom is eating and drinking and is going into her breast milk, like cow's milk.

A head to toe exam might also help you find physical clues to your baby's crying, such as a bulging fontanel (increased intracranial pressure), eyes that are red and tearing a lot (corneal abrasion), or a finger or toe that is red or swollen (hair tourniquet syndrome).

Calming Your Crying Baby

Despite what the most popular parenting books of the day may claim, there is really no single calming technique that works for everyone. Most newborn babies like to be swaddled, many like to be rocked, while others enjoy being sung to or going for a walk. You may just have to figure out what works best for your baby though.

If you have no idea where to get started, one of the many 'fussy baby' books, such as The Happiest Baby on the Block or The Fussy Baby Book, will likely be very helpful for you or review these other things to do when you have a baby crying.

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