All Babies Cry
- Why Babies Cry
- Understanding Different Cries
- What Can I Do?
- When Should I Worry?
- Looking After Yourself
- When It Feels Too Much
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 this harder to cope with 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 if your child is in pain *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*.
- As your baby gets older usually from around 6 months they might get upset when you are out of sight. This is normal. It is because your baby has started to worry that you might not come back. It can feel scary for them when you are not close by.
- Always let your baby know when you are going to leave the room and tell them you will be back.
- Comfort them and give them lots of reassurance when you come back in the room.
- Over time they will feel more confident that you always come back when you say you will.
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.
Don’t be hard on yourself if sometimes everything you try doesn’t seem to 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 have learnt 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.
If you are feeling stressed and exhausted by the crying - 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.
- 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
- You may find it easier to talk to a professional – your midwife, health visitor or you can call Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 to talk to a health professional
- If you are feeling stressed by the crying and it is out of hours you can call 111 for support and advice too.
Ask for help
Ask family and friends for the help that feels most useful to you.
- They could cook a meal or make you a cup of tea
- They could try and comfort the baby whilst you take a break and clear your head
- Or they could just be with you and keep you company.
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.
Take a break 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. You could put your baby in their pram or sling, the change of scenery will help you and your baby might nod off to sleep too!
Finding the time to relax when you have a baby can seem like an impossible idea! However it is important for your wellbeing to find ways to unwind. Being able to ‘take a breath’ when you are feeling stressed can really help you and your baby to calm down.
Relaxation techniques can be as short or as long as you have time for.
- It can be as simple as slowing down your breathing at moments of stress (breathe in for 4 and out slowly for 7)
- If you learnt relaxation techniques for yourself and/or your partner in preparation for labour – remember you can use these now too!
- You could set aside time for mindfulness and meditation every day. Headspace also have some short and longer exercises to try.
You might need to try a few things to find out what helps you to relax the most. You could try;
- Pulling up and tensing your shoulders, holding them tight then slowly relaxing them and letting them drop down loosely
- Repeating a positive statement to yourself. ‘I am in control’ or ‘I am doing a good job’ choose something that works for you
- Picture yourself in a ‘happy place’ maybe a warm beach or a bright frosty day. Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. Close your eyes and focus on the sights, sounds and smells that would be there.
You could try a grounding technique as a way of taking back your control. It can help you feel calmer at stressful times reminding you of the world around you. Take a slow deep breath then;
LOOK: for 5 things that you can see. Count them up. 1) I see the changing mat, 2) I see the sofa, 3) I see my mug….. Keep going until you have counted 5 things.
FEEL: Think of 4 things that you can feel in your body. Count them up 1) I feel my feet cold on the floor 2) I feel the soft blanket on the sofa …. Keep going until you have counted 4 things.
LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds. Count them up 1) I can hear the traffic outside, 2) I can hear the wind blowing…. Keep going until you have counted 3 things.
SMELL: Say two things you can smell. Count them up 1) I can smell my baby’s shampoo 2) I can smell my coffee…… Keep going until you have counted 2 things.
TASTE: Say one thing you can taste. It might be your coffee, or your toothpaste from earlier.
Finally, take another slow breath, you can repeat the 5 steps if needed.
It is important if you feel like things are getting too much, 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 a shower, bath or something to eat and drink or take 5 minutes to do a relaxation exercise.
If you are on your own
- Put your baby safely in their cot when you stat to feel cross or like you might loose control
- 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.
If you are on your own, feel really stressed and are struggling to calm down, you can call 111.
Having a baby can be really tough sometimes. The crying can be hard to cope with alongside the tiredness and life changes that a new baby brings.
Although it is difficult to imagine it ever happening to you - we know that it can push people to their limits. It is not surprising that even the calmest people sometimes find it very stressful.
What is a safety plan?
A safety plan is a plan of what you will do if your baby keeps crying and you become upset or angry. Making a plan during your pregnancy or once baby has arrived can help you from feeling overwhelmed.
Your plan can include;
- People you can call on for for support.
- Techniques you can use to cope.
Having a plan of how you will deal with the harder days can be reassuring and make sure you and your baby have the support you need when you need it.
Sometimes babies cry (or go very quiet) because they are unwell. If you are worried your baby might be poorly then call your GP or 111 - trust your instincts.
When you feel stressed or upset it can be hard to remember what you can do to make things feel better. It is good to have your safety plan written down and keep it somewhere you can find it easily.
Take a look at our plan template below. You could print it off and fill it in or make your own. Keep this plan safe and easily accessible just in case you need it.
Let your important friends and family know that you would like them to be part of your 'safety plan'.
You could also look at our 'Family Networking' section for ideas on how you can get your friends and family on board to support you.
Babies are unpredictable so it is difficult to know when your stress levels will climb. Your safety plan needs to cover different situations.
On your plan you can have a section for each situation or create a separate plan for each;
On your own…
- Put your baby down in a safe place. This should be on their back in a pram, crib or cot.
- Tell your baby you will be back in a minute and leave the room.
- Do some slow, deep breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Make yourself a cup of tea / something to eat.
- Call a friend.
Once you feel calm enough you can pick them up and try and settle them.
If your baby is still crying then put them in their pram or a sling and go for a walk. The change of scene can help you and the baby.
On your own - but with someone to call on…
This section of the plan is for when you are on your own with your baby but have someone who has already agreed to be ‘on call’ for the hard days.
First take the same steps of putting your baby in a safe place and going into the next room. Call your support person.
- You may have agreed a ‘code word’ so you don’t have to put into words how you are feeling. Something like ‘operation help’.
- Have a second ‘on call person’ just in case they don't reply.
If no one can get to see you face to face maybe someone can be on FaceTime or WhatsApp and be ‘with you’ in that way.
Someone else in the home…
- Tell the other person you need a break.
- Even if they are asleep – wake them up and ask for help.
- Take a break, get a drink, get something to eat go for a walk.
- Check in with the person who has taken over to make sure they are ok.
- If they are feeling stressed too - take it in turns. Sometimes it helps to be together to support each other.
Keep reassuring each other and that you are doing well and that all babies cry – this won’t last forever.
If you are struggling to get back in control of your emotions and you do not have a trusted person to call on - contact 111 they are there 24/7. Asking for help is always the most important thing and you will not be judged for it.
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 10pm 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.
See, Hear, Respond - Best Beginnings and Barnado's are providing free support to pregnant families and new parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.