Babies cry simply because they are babies. It’s one of their most unique traits. Crying is what mostly defines the life of a newborn. Most newborns cry for an average of around two hours every day. Normally, a newborn’s crying is spread out through the day.
From the day that a baby is born up to the time when he turns 6 weeks, you would notice that his crying would normally increase to almost three hours a day. Surprisingly, this remains true even after you’ve done everything to make him stop from crying. Eventually however, your baby’s fussing is expected to decrease every day by as much as one hour.
Reading your baby’s mind
When the baby starts crying, parents have the usual reaction of responding to their baby’s cry immediately. They try to find out what could be the reason why their baby is crying.
There are a number of reasons why babies cry. It could be due to: hunger; sleepiness or fatigue; pain or illness; wet or dirty diaper; gas; overstimulation due to noise or activity; colic, acid reflux or food allergies and stranger anxiety or fear.
Crying is also your baby’s only means of communicating. In time and with practice, you would soon learn how to decode your baby’s crying and may find better ways to respond to her needs.
If the crying persists, never think that it’s your fault or you are doing things wrong. It’s also not right to believe that a baby who cries for longer periods of time will become a difficult child when he grows up.
Some baby signals that need special attention
While crying is common in babies, each baby has different sensory needs. For example, your baby will cry because he wants you to hold him. Other babies cry but they don’t need to be held. One will cry because he wants a change on his dirty diaper while another will not seem to care and will tolerate the situation.
As parents, you should be able to determine your baby’s preferences and find out the exact needs of your little one. In particular, you should be able to notice:
- the changes in your baby’s mood – Check to see if your baby’s mood changes in relation to the changes in the environment, what the time of day it is, or if it’s something to do with feeding or napping.
- the way he reacts to varying situations and environments – Perhaps your baby gets over stimulated due to the presence of a lot of people or he wants to show you he’s upset about some changes in the schedule.
- the differences in his crying styles and tones – In the beginning, the cries will all sound similar. As days pass by, your baby will give out different cries for different situations such as an “I’m tired” cry or an “I’m hungry” cry. Take note of the pitch, noise level and intensity of the cry. You can also watch your baby’s body language and facial expressions. Some of the things that you may notice in your baby include a scrunched up face, an arched back, hyperactive or frenetic movement, rubbing eyes, curled up fists, and tightly closed eyes in reaction to the light.
Consoling a crying baby
Some babies will stop crying once they feel they are wrapped in a blanket or they are carried in a baby carrier. At times, a baby is hushed during a car ride or when he is on his stroller. Some babies also seem to enjoy the sound of a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine and would stop crying upon hearing such sounds.
Try giving your baby a massage or a tummy rub. You can use massaging oils or creams while you rub the baby’s back or tummy. When you do rub his back or tummy, remember to do it in a clockwise direction.
A regular massage may help lessen your baby’s crying and fussing. The best time to give a massage is when your baby is settled and seemed alert. If your baby cries during the massage, it means he’s had enough and wants you to stop.
You can also try various feeding positions for your baby. Make sure that your baby latches on well. Some babies like to feed in an upright position. If your baby cries as soon as the feeding ends, it may mean that he is still hungry.
Give your baby a warm bath. Check if the water temperature is around 37 degrees to 38 degrees Celsius. You can also use your elbow to check the water temperature. It should feel neither cold nor hot.
If your baby is healthy and growing and yet he cries more than 3 hours a day for a period of 3 days a week, he may be colic. However, a colic diagnosis on your baby would only mean that he cries a lot. In this case, it may be impossible to know what causes colic. Parents whose babies are colic need to be assured that their babies would grow up just fine. Colic is not harmful and would normally go away on its own.
No matter what the situation is, never console your baby by shaking him. Shaking a baby can cause brain damage.
When is the best time to seek help?
If your baby shows these signs, get medical attention as soon as you can.
- He vomits green fluid.
- He gives out a weak, high-pitched and continuous cry.
- His fluid intake is less than a third of the usual amount.
- Your baby seems floppy as you pick him up.
- He has a bulging fontanelle or the soft spot that is usually found on a baby’s head.
- There is blood in his stool.
- He has a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher (for babies younger than three months) or 39 degrees Celsius (for babies that are 3 to 6 months old).
- His temperature feels high although his hands and feet feel cold.
- He has a stiff neck.
- He turns blue or looks very pale.
- He passes less urine than the usual.
- He has difficulty in breathing.