All Babies Cry
All babies are different and their personalities will make a difference to how they cope with the world around them. They are still learning who they can rely on. They are getting used to new feelings, sounds and smells. Some babies find it harder to get used to than others.
If your baby is crying you will probably try the ‘usual checklist’ first;
- Are they hungry?
Babies have very small tummies and need to eat little and often. Look for ‘cues’ to see if they are hungry. Find out more *here*.
- Are they wet or dirty?
Some babies prefer to be in a clean nappy.
- Are they too hot or cold?
Feel their tummy or back of their neck to check this out. Hands and feet often feel cooler so are not a good way of telling.
- Have they got a pain?
Check our page on how to spot this *here*.
You might check all of these things and your baby will still be crying.
- Does you baby need to be held?
The place your baby will feel safest is often in your arms. This helps your baby feel safe and confident you are there for them. This trust often leads to less crying.
Try a sling or baby carrier to free up your hands some times. Find out about sling safety *here*.
- Is too much going on?
Babies can find too much noise or too many people hard to cope with. Take them to a quieter place to settle them if you can. Hold them close and turn their bodies in towards you so they can take a break.
- Are they struggling to get to sleep?
Being ‘over tired’ can lead to crying. Your baby will probably give signs they are tired like; eye rubbing, ear pulling or gazing off into the distance. Rocking and talking softly to your baby in a quiet space, walks in their pram and rides in the car can help when they can’t seem to nod off.
- Are they hungry?
Don’t be hard on yourself if sometimes all you try doesn’t help. Learning what works for your baby can take time.
Keep your baby close.
- You will find it easier to spot the signs your baby needs you early and this can reduce crying time.
- It is often easier to settle a baby if you can step in before they get really upset.
Respond to your baby’s cries.
- Even if what you are doing does not stop the crying - your baby will sense you are trying to help them. This is very important. The trusting bond this builds between you helps your baby feel secure and helps to reduce the crying.
- When babies are often left to cry they feel scared and alone and won't learn they can rely on you. If this keeps happening they may give up asking for your help.
Talk to your baby.
- Your baby will be able to recognise your voice in the womb.
- Chat to your baby calmly. Let them know you are there to help them.
- It can help you both if you guess what they are trying to ‘say’ - ‘I know, you want to tell daddy that you are lonely and need a cuddle’ or ‘I know, you feel hungry and want your milk’.
- Songs and nursery rhymes, humming and ‘shushing’ can all help.
Talk to other people.
- Tell people that your baby is crying a lot and sometimes it is really hard to settle them. Lots of people have been in the same situation.
- Friends and family may have some top tips of what worked for them.
Ask for help from your partner, friends and family.
- Ask for what feels most useful to you. They could cook a meal or make you a cup of tea. Maybe they could try and comfort the baby whilst you take a break and clear your head or just be with you and keep you company.
- Rest whenever you get a chance; this is a tiring time. It won’t last forever and the tidying can wait. Even a short catnap will give you an energy boost.
Get out when you can.
- A walk in the fresh air can help your mood and your baby might nod off to sleep too!
If the crying seems in some way different to you – is high pitched or your baby is making other sounds that you feel worried about then get some advice. If your baby has other symptoms *click here* to have a look at the guidance on who to contact.
Trust your instincts. If you feel worried that something is not right get in touch with your GP or 111 for advice. If their phone lines are busy and you think your baby is seriously ill or getting worse you should call 999.
Look after yourself – it can be exhausting and frustrating when your baby cries a lot. It is important to find ways to stay calm. Your baby is very tuned in to how you feel and will sense this – it can even make the crying worse. It is not easy caring for an unsettled baby and can feel hard to cope.
It is important if you feel like this you give yourself time to get back in control of your emotions.
- If you have a partner or other grown up living with you ask them to take over. Even if that means waking them up. Go to another room, go for a walk, have something to eat and drink or take a shower.
- If you are on your own put your baby safely in their cot when you feel the irritation building up. Go in another room. Slow down your breathing until you begin to feel better. Make a drink and eat something. Call a friend if you need to and tell them how you are feeling. Go back to your baby and check on them every few minutes, until you feel calm enough to pick them up and try to settle them again.
- If your baby is still crying put them in their pram or a sling and go for a walk. The change of scene can help you and the baby.
- Be careful, however you are feeling, to always handle your baby gently, never shake them. Some parents and carers have shaken their babies whilst feeling like this and babies have sadly been badly injured or died. So it is very important to take a break when you need to.
If these feelings keep happening please tell someone. You will be able to get support. You will not be judged. You will be taking an important step to making things better for you and your family.
Who Can Help?
Cry-sis is a charity especially to support parents struggling with an unsettled baby. You can call 08451 228669 between 9am and 10am every day.
Even in the middle of the night if you have no one to support you and you are worried about how you are feeling, you can call 111 for support.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.
Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.
Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.
Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.