Infant Crying

All babies cry. Crying is your baby's way of talking about her feelings. It is a normal part of how a baby grows.

Babies cry for many reasons, but never to make you angry. A baby might cry to let you know that she...

  • is hungry
  • needs a diaper change
  • is too warm or too cold
  • wants to be held
  • wants you to play, talk or sing to them
  • is tired and sleepy
  • may not be feeling well

Crying normally starts to happen more often or for longer periods of time at about two weeks of age, continues into the second month, and is less by the fourth or fifth month of life.

The usual amount of crying is between one and two hours a day with the most crying during the second month. Some infants will cry more and some will cry less than that. Every infant is different. Some infants might cry up to six hours a day. 


What to do when your baby cries

Remain calm and try to figure out why the baby is crying. The list below gives you some ideas on how to soothe your crying baby:

  • Sing, talk or read to your baby
  • Feed your baby 
  • Hold your baby close to you and gently sway from side to side
  • Loosely swaddle your baby while in your arms
  • Change caregivers - get someone else to help you with the baby
  • Distract your baby with toys
  • Change a dirty diaper
  • Go for a walk with your baby in the stroller
  • Hold your baby skin-to-skin 

There will be times when your baby won't stop crying no matter what you do. If this happens, try to stay calm and remember that all babies cry. A crying baby does not mean you are not a good parent. Here are some things you can do before the baby is born to prepare for your baby's crying:

  • Make a plan for yourself on what to do when the baby cries
  • Get some help so you can rest
  • Talk to other parents, counsellor or health care professional if you are having trouble dealing with your baby's crying
  • Learn ways how to deal with feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and anger such as exercise, breathing and relaxation techniques

Sometimes babies cry for no reason

If the crying is upsetting to you...

...Put the baby safely in the crib and take a "time out." Letting your baby cry for a few minutes will not hurt her. Take some deep breaths and relax. Then go back to your baby when you feel more in control and less upset with the baby's crying. Try to soothe the baby. If you are unable to cope, call a friend, family member or other trusted individual to come and help you.


Trust your instincts

Most crying is normal, but your baby's cry may sound different and worry you. Or you may feel your baby is crying because she is sick. If you cannot soothe your baby after trying everything and if you think your baby may be sick, you should see your doctor or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000

If you feel yourself becoming angry and about to lose control,

STOP, THINK and HANDLE THE BABY WITH CARE.

NEVER SHAKE A BABY!

There is an important link between infant crying and Shaken Baby Syndrome. The most commonly given reason given for shaking a baby is that the baby wouldn't stop crying or fussing. However, shaking a baby can cause brain injury or even death.

Visit our page on Shaken Baby Syndrome for more information.


Coping with frustration

If you feel you're getting frustrated, angry or about to lose control because the baby continues to cry, we have some suggestions to help you cope.

After putting your baby safely in the crib:

  • Take a break and walk away for a few minutes
  • Take a deep breath and slowly count to 10 or more and don't think about the problem. Concentrate on your breathing and take the time to calm down
  • Call a friend
  • Close your eyes and imagine you are somewhere relaxing and pleasant, such as a beach
  • Read
  • Listen to music
  • Do something that makes you laugh and/or smile

Plan ahead

  • If your baby tends to cry a lot, make .arrangements for regular child-care relief and get some rest
  • Form a backup plan for calling in reliable help for times when you can't cope with your baby's crying
  • Talk to a friend, family member, counsellor or health professional about your situation. You may be able to get some support
  • Know your caregiver. Never leave your child with someone you don't trust, or someone who has a history of violence or violent behaviour or trouble controlling their anger
  • Ask your caregiver to look over this website and talk to them about it

For more information on understanding infant crying, visit the National Centre on Shaken Baby Syndrome

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