Why is my baby crying?

Crying is exhausting!  There is something about the howl of your baby that reaches inside a mum and twists your heart.

Sometimes (especially if it’s been going a while) baby’s crying seems to short circuit the rational part of our brain and you can find yourself feeling panicky and unsure why baby is crying how to make it stop!  Don’t worry, it all gets easier after a while, but in the meantime here’s a ‘cheat sheet’ for crying – if your baby is upset try working your way down this list and you’re likely to find something that helps…

She’s hungry:

She may fuss and grizzle, nuzzle your chest (or dad’s!), open and close her mouth and suck on anything that’s near her. Remember also that some babies have a strong need to suck for comfort. If your sweet darling is one of these she may wish to breastfeed at times when she is clearly not hungry – this is totally fine.

She has a dirty or wet nappy:

Some babies don’t mind dirty or wet nappies, some hate them.

She’s uncomfortable:

She may be too hot or too cold.  You can check this by slipping a couple of fingers inside her clothing at her chest or back.  She should feel comfortably warm.  Don’t pay too much attention to baby’s hand/foot temperature as these will often feel cold even though her core is warm (due to baby’s immature circulatory system).  She may have a label poking her or a toe caught in her sock.  She might also have wind in which case she’s likely to want to be upright not lying down.  You may find putting her over your shoulder or rubbing her back is helpful.

She’s overstimulated or overtired:

This can happen when baby has stayed awake too long or when there’s been a lot going on, i.e. lots of people or going out somewhere.  If this happens take her somewhere quiet and do some soothing things.  Some babies get overstimulated very easily – remember how monotone the womb room was – the outside world is a crazy assault on the senses for a newborn.

She wants to be held:

Your baby needs lots of close physical contact with you and other family members.  If she hasn’t had her quota for the day (or hour or minute) she’ll let you know!  Your arms are her happy place and whatever the problem she’s happier if she’s with you.

She’s unwell:

If you’ve tried everything else consider whether baby may be unwell.  Does she seem herself?  Does her cry sound different or unusual?  Check her temperature.  Rule of thumb is anything above 37º is high, above 38º is very high and above 39º is extremely high.  Even if your baby doesn’t have a temperature if you think something is wrong with her don’t hesitate to take her to call a health advisory line or take her to the doctors.  It is also possible for babies to have issues that cause crying like colic or reflux.

None of the above:

Sometimes your baby may just cry and you won’t be able to work out why.  All you can do is try the soothing tips in the next section and know that even if baby is crying she is soothed by your presence.  Hang in there, this too shall pass!


Posted on June 29, 2011, in Sleep and Crying. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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