The Top 5 Reasons Your Baby Might Be Crying
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This post originally appeared on The Journey of Parenthood.
Some cry a lot, some cry barely at all, and some fit right in between.
The reality is though, that ALL babies cry to some extent. It is their only means of communication.
As a mama, those cries tug at your heart. I never fully understood what that meant until I had my own children, but seriously, hearing my babies cry makes my whole body uncomfortable and on alert.
During those early sleep-deprived days it is normal to feel completely overwhelmed by the sound of your baby crying.
What’s worse is that you’re made to think that because you’re their mama, you’re just magically supposed to know what it is your baby wants or needs.
In truth, you need to learn the cries of your baby and that takes time.
However, it can be really helpful to have a little guide to assist you when you’re right in the thick of it. So, here are 5 reasons that your newborn might be crying:
Before I go into this one I really want to preface this by emphasizing how important it is to not just feed your baby every time they cry.
Yes, newborns need to feed often but that doesn’t mean that that is all they need every time they make a sound.
In fact, sometimes it can exacerbate the situation so be sure to evaluate when they last ate and if it is feasible that they might be hungry.
Growth spurts are the one exception to this rule. With my children, the most noticeable growth spurts during the newborn stage occurred at 3 weeks and 6 weeks.
But yes, hunger is often a reason that babies cry. However, it is also a late indicator of hunger.
There are other more subtle cues that your baby might show before then such as sucking or rooting.
Using the eat, play, sleep rhythm found in Babywise really helped me in judging when my baby might be ready for another feed.
This ultimately led to less crying because I was able to preempt their needs.
Newborns need to sleep a lot.
Like a lot a lot.
We’re talking about 16-17 hours a day.
However, there is a common misconception that keeping babies awake for longer periods will lead them to sleep for longer stretches.
Newborns typically should be awake for no longer than 60 minutes at a time (and that includes feeding).
In fact, while I understand all babies are different, both of mine could only do 30 minutes tops in the early days.
If your baby is fed and has been awake for a little while, try to get them down to sleep because that is highly likely to solve the crying.
Another tip is that keeping your baby up for no more than 60 minutes means they will likely be much easier to get to sleep.
Here is a great post about how to find the best wake time for your baby –> Optimal Wake Time Lengths
3) Wind (pain)
Oh boy, there is nothing like that middle of the night panic when you’ve fed your tiny babe and can’t get them to bring up a burp.
Whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed they need to be winded after feeding. I really like THIS technique by Sharlene Poole for getting burps up.
I have also found that the type of cry my babies have when they have wind or pain of some kind is different.
It is more high pitched and persistent.
If that is the cry your baby is making and they don’t seem to have any gas issues then be sure to check every inch of them for anything that might be causing pain.
It is not uncommon for a hair to get wrapped around little toes and cause much discomfort.
This can happen SO easily in newborns.
Thankfully I’ve only experienced it a couple of times with my babies.
If your newborn seems to just be losing their mind and crying inconsolably then overstimulation might be the issue.
Assess the environment they’ve been in.
Have they been awake for a long time? Has great aunt Agatha been playing peekaboo, or has your toddler been playing the entertainer?
Screens and toys with flashing lights and music are also culprits of creating overstimulating environments for your baby.
Try to limit these things where you can but if you should find yourself in a situation with an overstimulated baby then I suggest moving to a quiet, darkened room and calming your baby there.
White Noise can be particularly helpful too!
Read more about what causes overstimulation and how to solve it here –> Overstimulation
5) The Witching Hour
The witching hour does not affect every baby.
My first-born had it but my second child did not. It is essentially a time of day where your baby is inexplicably fussy and refuses (or is difficult to get) to sleep.
My son’s witching hour was from 4pm-7pm. It was like a flip switched and he wouldn’t settle.
During that time I wore him in a baby carrier so I could still get some house jobs done. Baths can also help soothe some babies.
If you’re finding that your baby is fussy during a fairly predictable time of day almost every day, then the witching hour could be to blame.
The important thing to note is that you’re not doing anything wrong.
No one knows the particular reason behind why the witching hour takes place but babies usually outgrow it before 4 months of age. Do your best to get through it.
You’ll find what works and while it may not seem like it at the time, it’ll be a distant memory before you know it.
As I said in the introduction, it is normal and healthy for babies to cry. However, if you sense that your baby is crying an abnormal amount then it is well worth a trip to your doctor.
Illness and reflux can both be nasty reasons for an inconsolable baby. If you feel that might be the case don’t leave things to chance. Trust your mama-gut.
With time, consistency, and healthy schedules my children both lessened their crying but it has to be said that as a parent stopping the crying isn’t really the main priority.
Your main priority should be to address the needs of your child.
In those early months crying is their only way of communicating those to you.
Take heart, mama! The quality of your motherhood is not determined by how much your baby cries (thank heavens!). 🙂
I hope you found these tips helpful. Feel free to share some of yours!