A baby's cry can be upsetting and frustrating. It is designed to get your attention and you may be worried that something is wrong with your baby.
Your baby may start to cry more frequently at about 2 weeks of age. The crying may get more frequent and last longer during the next few weeks, hitting a peak at about 6 to 8 weeks.
Every baby is different, but after about 8 weeks, babies start to cry less and less each week.
Babies cry for many reasons - most commonly because they are uncomfortable or are unwell. This may be due to colic, reflux, constipation or infection amongst other things.
Below are some things to look out for if your baby is crying that may suggest they are unwell.
Colic can cause excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies. Although the cause is unknown, it is likely to be due to intestinal discomfort like bowel cramping.
Colic tends to begin when a baby is a few weeks old. It normally stops by four months of age, or by six months at the latest.
Looking after a colicky baby can be very frustrating and distressing, but the problem will eventually pass and is usually nothing to worry about.
Signs and symptoms of colic include:
- Your baby often starts crying suddenly.
- The cry is high-pitched and nothing you do seems to help.
- The crying begins at the same time each day, often in the afternoon or evening.
- Your baby might draw their legs up when they cry.
- Your baby might clench their hands.
- Your baby’s face might flush.
- The crying can last for minutes or hours. A baby with colic cries for 3 hours a day or more.
- The crying often winds down when your baby is exhausted or when they have passed wind or poo
What can you do to help your baby?
Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop. Babies can cry for reasons such as if they are hungry, tired, wet/dirty or they are unwell.
Check these basic needs and try some simple calming techniques:
- Talk calmly, hum or sing to your baby
- Let them hear a repeating or soothing sound
- Hold them close - skin to skin
- Go for a walk outside with your baby
- Give them a warm bath
These techniques may not always work. It may take a combination or more than one attempt to soothe your baby.
If the crying won't stop what should you do?
Not every baby is easy to calm but that doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong.
Don’t get angry with your baby or yourself. Instead, put your baby in a safe place and walk away so that you can calm
yourself down by doing something that takes your mind off the crying. Try:
- Listening to music, doing some exercises or doing something that calms you
- Call a relative or friend - they may be able to calm your baby or may be able to watch them
After a few minutes when you are calm, go back and check on the baby.
It’s normal for parents to get stressed, especially by their baby crying. Put some time aside for yourself and taker care of
your needs as well as your baby’s to help you cope.
Handling a baby roughly will make them more upset. Shouting or getting angry with your baby will make things worse.
For help and support, take a look at the ICON website: http://iconcope.org/parentsadvice