Why is My Baby Crying?

Bringing your baby home from the hospital is new and exciting. However, it can be overwhelming, especially during those times when your baby is crying. Here are some of the top reasons why a newborn may be crying — and you how you should respond.

1. Is the baby hungry?

Watch your baby for hunger cues, such as stirring and stretching, making sucking or rooting motions, or putting their fingers in their mouth. (Rooting is when a baby opens their mouth, makes sucking noises, and turns their head towards the side in search of food.)  Consider when the baby last ate. Newborns eat about every 2 hours, but should be fed on demand. Crying is usually the last hunger cue for babies,so it's important to understand some of the earlier hunger cues in order to respond to your baby and feed her before she starts crying.

2. Does your baby need to burp?

Gas bubbles get caught in your baby's stomach, causing a feeling of fullness and/or discomfort, which can cause your baby to squirm, cry, or arch their backs. Burp your baby by alternating them over your shoulder and across your lap. You can also do tummy time right before a feeding to help push the air towards the top of the stomach making it easier to come out of the form of a burp after a feeding. (Tummy time is the time that your baby spends on her belly, while supervised, to help her develop upper body and neck strength in order to learn how to hold her head up, roll over, and crawl).

3. Does the baby need a clean diaper?

If your baby is crying, check your baby’s diaper to see if it is wet or dirty, as this can be bothersome. Change your baby regularly, as well as either right before or right after feeding her. If you find your baby has redness or a rash, we highly recommend the use of a bum paste made for babies, like triple paste.

4. Is your baby tired?

Has your baby been awake for a few hours? Is the baby rubbing his eyes? If so, soothe your baby so he can go down for a nap. Even though your baby is tired, he needs help to fall asleep. Babies don't start learning to self soothe until about 4 months of age and do not perfect that skill until 6 months. For babies less than 4 months, try using your 5 S's to help calm them and get them down for a period of sleep. Recognizing your baby's sleepy cues early is important, as you do not want your baby to get overtired.

5. Is your baby lonely?

All newborns like to be held and cuddled. They enjoy skin to skin contact, or being in someone’s arms listening to someone talking. If you are desperate to be able to do things, but your baby won't let you put them down, try using a baby carrier like the k'tan or the ergo baby to carry baby while they sleep. You can have your hands free to do other things around the house.

6. Is your baby overstimulated?

Your baby may be crying due to overstimulation if you are in a place that is noisy, or if you have had a lot of activity in your day. If your baby is overstimulated, she may seem inconsolable. You can help to calm your baby by bringing her into a quiet space where the lights are lowered and there is little noise. Additionally, if you’ve had a busy day and your baby seems overstimulated, she may also be showing early hunger signs or sleepy signs. Sometimes when we are busy we are not able to pick up on these subtle cues., So if your baby seems overstimulated, check if your baby is also hungry or tired.

7. Is your baby sick, or teething?

If you think your baby is sick and that is why they are crying, check the baby’s temperature and call your pediatrician. A fever in a newborn is considered 100.4 or greater and should be measured under your baby's arm or rectally. If your baby is teething, offer cool compresses or teething toys to chew on. Talk to your pediatrician about medications like Tylenol, for illness or teething, as they will be able to guide you in regards to appropriate medication and dosing. Babies less than 6 months of age should not receive Motrin.

Newborn CareNancy Stewart