Crying baby

Crying and Comforting

Crying Baby

Why do babies cry? It’s not always clear exactly why, but you can be sure when your baby cries he is trying to tell you something isn’t right. It is their main form of communicating to you.

Babies don’t cry to annoy you, or because they are naturally naughty or grumpy, babies just cry, it’s what they do. Some babies seem to be more sensitive to change and discomfort than others are, but ignoring their cries won’t make them change. Usually a cuddle with mum or dad is all that is needed to help settle your baby.

Fortunately, crying hardly ever indicates a major physical problem or illness. Yet if you are worried about it, then ask for your doctor’s advice, to rule out any illness.

In the majority of cases, a crying baby is healthy, even babies who cry for a long time, and at least once a day. Your doctor will be able to reassure you your baby’s developing well.

Here are the types of things your crying baby may be trying to tell you, and which you can attempt to deal with:

  • Is he hungry or thirsty? This is the most common reason for crying. Let your baby decide when to come off the first breast, if you’re breast-feeding. Then offer the next breast. Make up an extra amount of formula and offer it if you’re bottle-feeding.
  • Is he getting a good, satisfying feed? Check your baby’s position on the breast, to make sure he’s stimulating the letdown reflex, which brings him the calorie-rich hindmilk. If you’re bottle-feeding, check the teat hole is not too small and thus making sucking and swallowing difficult, or that the hole is too big and overwhelming him.
  • Does he need ‘winding’? Sit your baby in an upright position and rub his back.
  • Is he uncomfortably hot or cold? Check his chest with the back of your hand; it should feel comfortably warm, not hot and clammy, or cold.
  • In the early weeks it is quite common for some babies to suffer from colic.
  • Is he bored and needs some company? Cuddles, soft singing, back patting, a bath, can all be calming and soothing.
  • Is he tired, yet unable to settle down to sleep? Try rocking or pushing him up and down in the pram.
  • Is he irritated by noise, excitement and people? If so go to a quiet room with him.
  • Is he uncomfortable? Check his clothing for tightness round the wrists or ankles. A baby with nappy rash will cry in a wet or dirty nappy.
  • He might just want a cuddle from mum or dad. He loves the feeling of security he finds in your arms, your smell and just being near you.

For more information see Baby health care or Baby Care.