Crying is normal and healthy for a baby. Babies cry because they can’t talk, and want you to know something is wrong. Give yourself time to get to know your baby. In a few weeks, you will get better at knowing what causes your baby to cry and what will help him to stop.
Soon you will be able to tell hungry cries from boredom cries, and hurt cries from angry cries. There will still be times when your baby will cry and you will not know why. Don’t take your baby’s crying personally.
When your baby cries, check for causes such as:
HUNGER: Your baby may be hungry, so try feeding first. Most newborns need to be fed every 2 to 3 hours for about 20 minutes at a time. The feedings provide comfort and closeness as well as keeping your baby's tummy full. If your baby is not hungry, sucking on a pacifier or a finger (his or yours) can relax your baby and help put him to sleep.
If you are breastfeeding, your baby can react to things you eat that pass into breast milk. To see if a certain food or drink upsets your baby, avoid that food or drink for a couple of weeks before you try it again.
If you are bottle-feeding, your baby may react to something in the formula. If he cries with each feeding, ask his healthcare provider if you should try another type of formula.
DISCOMFORT: Look for things that may make your baby uncomfortable, such as:
OVER-STIMULATION: Too much playing and handling can tire your baby and cause crying. During the night, keep your baby calm by feeding and changing him in a quiet place away from bright lights and the TV. Some babies like the secure feeling of being swaddled in a blanket.
Quiet music, gentle rocking, soft singing, or talking may help. You might also try a warm bath or a gentle massage. A steady sound (white noise) such as a fan, a dishwasher, clothes dryer, or a vacuum cleaner may calm your baby. Your baby can tell when you are tense and may also get tense and cry. It helps if you can stay relaxed.
BOREDOM: Crying can also mean that your baby wants a change in scenery or activity.
COLIC: Colic is when a baby cries more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week. The crying usually happens around the same time each day. Most babies outgrow colic by 3 to 4 months of age.
Keep track of feeding, sleep, when your baby starts to cry, and for how long. Talk with your healthcare provider about these patterns.
Sometimes you just need to let your baby cry himself to sleep. It’s OK to let your child cry for 10 or 15 minutes as long as you have made sure he is in a safe place and has been fed, burped, and changed.
If your baby is crying and you are very tired or angry enough that you are afraid you might hurt him, put him down in a safe place such as a crib or playpen, go into another room, and try to calm down. If you are still upset, call someone. Ask a spouse, friend, neighbor, or relative to give you a break when you need it.
NEVER shake or hurt your baby.