Why does my baby cry so much? By Jo Ryan

You may not have been exposed to a baby’s cry before you have had your own. But once you are a parent, the crying never seems to stop! What does it mean when your baby won’t stop crying?  Prolonged crying can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious that you’re doing something wrong. But in reality, most babies cry a lot in the first 12 months. After that, things will become much easier.

Knowing why your baby might be crying can help. It stops you second guessing yourself and thinking you are doing something wrong. There can be a few reasons why a baby might be crying. Here are my top 6:

  • Hunger — This is probably the biggest reason babies cry, especially from birth until about 3 weeks of age.
  • Tiredness — Too much excitement, being up too long or a busy day can be exhausting for a young baby.
  • Closeness — Occasionally young babies just want to be held.
  • Wind — Young babies often need to be burped after feeding. If this doesn’t happen they can get some discomfort or pain.
  • Dirty/wet nappy – Your baby might not like the sensation of having a pooey or wet nappy.
  • Pain or illness – If something hurts, then your baby will cry a lot and loudly.

So what do you do when your baby is so upset? Here are a few ideas:

  • Carrying your baby around can help reduce their distress. They love movement, so any kind of movement can help.
  • Touch and skin-to-skin contact is another proven calming technique for babies.
  • Breastfeeding is a great way to soothe your baby. It combines the skin-to-skin contact with the lovely sensation of sucking which can release calming hormones.
  • White noise can replicate the sounds a baby hears when in utero so having some white noise on when you are calming your baby can really help.

Of course, it would be much more convenient for everyone if you could prevent the crying before it actually happens. This can be tricky, but here are a few ways you can make sure your baby doesn’t start crying:

  • Feed your baby regularly, every 3 to 4 hours and for some newborns it may be even more than that.
  • Try not to let your baby get overtired. Watch out for tired signs like yawning, eye-rubbing and grizzling. At this point you should try and get them swaddled and into their cot for a nap.
  • Try to make sure that your baby’s nappy is clean, particularly before you put them down for a sleep.

Know that crying generally reduces as your baby grows. The first 3 months are usually the worst and then it gets better. Making sure your baby is getting enough sleep can really help.

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.