Activate ReciteMe accessibility assistance Download this page Print this page

All Babies Cry

A baby’s cry is designed to get attention. Crying is your baby’s only way to let the people they rely on know they need them. Crying is normal, but that doesn’t mean that it is always easy to cope with. Some babies seem to cry a lot and most Mums and Dads will have some days and nights where even though they have tried everything their baby can’t settle. It can be very stressful and can make you feel like you are not a good enough parent.

Crying is part of a baby’s language. A lot of babies don’t cry very much in the first few days so it can feel a shock when the crying increases. Most babies will cry more from week 2 often peaking at about week 6/8 before beginning to get less. If you have a baby that seems to cry a lot you are not doing anything wrong and neither is your baby. It is a stage that you are both working through together and it will pass.

Sometimes babies cry a lot because they are unwell. If you are worried your baby might be ill seek medical advice. There is always someone to ask 24/7. You can call your GP or 111 who will talk to you about your concerns.

  • Just like adults all babies are different and their personalities will make a difference to how they cope with the world around them. Everything is strange and new and they are still learning who they can rely on. They are getting used to new feelings, sounds and smells. It is a lot to deal with; some babies take this in their stride, others find it harder.

    If your baby is crying you will probably try the ‘usual checklist’ first;

    • Are they hungry?
      Babies have very small tummies and may need to eat little and often. Look for ‘cues’ to see if they are hungry – feeding cues are the signs babies give to tell us they are hungry. Find out more *here*.
    • Are they wet or dirty?
      Some babies aren’t too bothered by this others are more sensitive to this and prefer to be in a clean nappy.
    • Are they too hot/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*.

    Some babies may have colic where babies cry and seem uncomfortable for long periods without a found cause. Find out more *here*.  (is this reviewed and ready to go? - no changes were suggested by working group)

    You might check all of these things and your baby might still be crying. Sometimes the reason might not be obvious.

    • Does you baby need to be held?
      The world feels ‘very big’ to a baby in the early days. The place they feel safest is often in your arms. This is time well spent because it will help your baby learn to feel safe and secure that you are there for them. This trust often leads to less crying.
      Try a sling/carrier to free up your hands some of the time. Find out about sling safety *here*.
    • Is too much going on?
      Babies can find new experiences like too much noise/ too many people hard to cope with. Take them to a quieter place to settle them if you can. If you can’t get to a quieter space straight away - hold them close and turn their bodies in towards you so they can take a break from it all.
    • Are they struggling to get to sleep?
      Being ‘over tired’ can lead to crying. Your baby will probably give ‘tired cues’ – signs they need a sleep. This can be eye rubbing, ear pulling of gazing off into the distance. You can help by 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.
  • You will be doing all you can to settle your baby, don’t be hard on yourself if it sometimes doesn’t help. Finding what works for your baby can take time. You are probably doing a lot of the ‘right’ things without even realising – holding and rocking your baby, talking, singing and walking around with them will all help your baby.

    • 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 know and sense that you are trying to help them and this is very important. The trusting bond this builds between you will help your baby feel more secure and will in time help to reduce the crying. If babies are often left to cry it can make them feel scared and alone with no one to rely on. If this keeps happening they may give up asking for help.
    • Talk to your baby. In the earliest days your voice is one of the few familiar things your baby recognises from 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 Mummy 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. You will be surprised how many 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 and from other friends and family. Ask for what feels most useful to you. You might need them to cook a meal or make you a cup of tea. Or you might prefer that they try and comfort the baby for a little while and you do the washing up / have a shower to clear your head! 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 of the house 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 our ‘spotting serious illness in children’ page.

    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.

  • It is important that you look after yourself – you might be getting exhausted and frustrated from not being able to help your baby. 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 it is understandable you will have times when it feels hard to cope.

    It is important that 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 begin settling them again.
    • If your baby is still crying put them in their pram and go out for a walk with them. 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. Mums and Dads 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 are struggling to get more support. You will not be judged you will be taking an important step to making things better for you and your family.

    There is a charity especially to support parents struggling with an unsettled baby called Cry-sis you can find advice on their website *here*. They have a helpline you can call between 09.00 and 22.00 every day on 08451 228669.

    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 talk to your Health visitor or GP – all NHS services are all still there to help you during the coronavirus outbreak.

     

Who Can Help?

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 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.

   

Close the mobile menu