Crying and How to Cope With It

Understand why babies cry and get tips on how to soothe your little one.

Some babies cry more than others. Newborns generally cry for around 2 to 3 hours a day, but for new mums alone with a small baby, it might feel like much more than that.

With any luck, as your baby gets past the 8-week mark, his crying will decrease – but he’ll still cry. So why do babies cry and what can you do about it? 


Why babies cry

Communication: small babies don’t have many ways to communicate other than crying. They’ll often cry if something is unfamiliar, or if they feel uncomfortable, lonely, scared, overwhelmed or even bored.

Colic: if your baby cries for several hours at a stretch every day, usually in the late afternoon or evening, and is otherwise well, he’s probably got colic. You’ll be glad to know this almost always disappears by the time babies are around 4 months old.

Wind: your baby may have wind trapped in his stomach from feeding. Burping him after feeds should prevent this being a problem.

Hunger: if your baby hasn’t been fed for 2 or 3 hours, chances are he’s hungry.

Discomfort: babies may cry if they’ve got a full nappy, or if they’re too hot or too cold.

Tiredness: sometimes babies cry because they’re over-stimulated or tired. As they get older, they might develop other ways of showing this as well as crying, like touching their ear.

Illness: a weak, high-pitched cry may mean your baby is ill. If he seems to be sick, or you have a feeling that something’s wrong, call a medical professional.

Comforting your crying baby

As you spend more time with your baby, you’ll get to know what his different cries mean. Some cries are relatively easy to deal with – hunger cries, for example – while others may be more difficult to quell. All babies are different, and you’ll probably try lots of methods of comforting before you find ones that work for your baby. You can try:

Holding your baby: the physical contact with you will help him feel secure and soothed.

Rocking and moving: most babies find a rocking motion comforting. You can rock him in your arms or in his cradle, or dance around with him. Some parents find their baby is soothed by a ride in the car, but if you do this, take your partner with you. A crying baby can be very distracting while you’re driving.

Sucking: your baby may be comforted by having a breastfeed, sucking a dummy or sucking your finger.

Sound: some babies like music, others are soothed by white noise, like the sound of a vacuum cleaner or static from the radio.

Don’t take your baby’s crying personally. It’s just what babies do. If it gets too much, put him safely in his cot and let him cry – it won’t do him any harm. Don’t be afraid to call your partner or get a family member or friend to come and take over if you need support. Massage can help calm your baby, but don’t do it when she’s actually crying. See how to give your baby a massage


Did you know…?

No one knows what causes colic. It affects around 40% of babies, breastfed and bottle fed alike.


How dads can help

Dealing with a crying baby can be very stressful, so be prepared to step in and take over when your partner needs support.

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