Why Do Babies Cry - Discover 10 main reasons affecting your baby’s health
Fussiness. The “witching hour.” Colic. Screeching. Whining. All babies cry. And it can be one of the most draining, confusing, frustrating parts of parenthood.
Babies cry for several reasons – it’s the only form of communication they are fluent in! A baby usually won’t begin using words until between 6 and 12 months, which means infants can only indicate their needs through the varying grunts, shrieks, coos, whines, and wails of crying. Cries can be high or low pitched, loud or quiet, fast or slow, and can last for seconds or hours. It’s easy for a new parent to assume all cries indicate hunger, but in reality, this is only one of a baby’s many needs.
Here are ten reasons (besides hunger!) that your baby might be crying:
1 - Baby Is Sleepy
Some babies cry excessively when they are overtired and need some rest. It’s exhausting work to learn so much about the world on a daily basis! Babies are busy listening, learning, and exploring their environment and need plenty of sleep to replenish their energy level. Newborns especially need adequate sleep, and sleep patterns may be erratic until around 4 months when most babies begin to establish their circadian rhythm.
A baby might cry because he needs a nap but is unable to fall asleep on his own. Parents can use white noise machines, lullaby music, singing, patting, or rocking to help their baby fall asleep and eventually learn to self soothe.
2 - Baby Is Bored
Older babies need more stimulation as they begin to explore the world around them. Scooting, crawling, and walking babies need objects and activities that facilitate their need to explore, play, and learn. Many babies have short attention spans and prefer to transition between many activities in a short amount of time. Has your crying baby been laying on an activity mat, bouncing in a doorway jumper, or playing at an activity table for a while? Is it too quiet in the room? Is it too dark? Are the same toys out every day? If so, try changing the baby’s activity, position, or routine and see if that calms him.
3 - Baby Is Uncomfortable
Crying often indicates discomfort. Even adults cry when they get hurt! Babies can be uncomfortable for many reasons. If a baby is crying uncontrollably, give him a quick lookover to figure out if he is hurt or in pain. Here are some reasons a baby might be crying out of discomfort:
- Stomach ache or earache
- Diaper on too tight
- Clothing has scratchy tags
- Hair or string is wrapped around a finger or toe
- Baby is sitting in a weird position
- Lights are too bright
- The room is too cold
4 - Baby Is Overstimulated
When babies are born, they are thrust from a warm, cozy, dark, soothing environment into a loud, colorful, chaotic, bustling world. This makes it easy for a baby to become overstimulated. Has your crying baby just been out to a busy mall? Has he been passed from person to person for hours at a family party? Have you gone out to eat at a noisy, crowded restaurant? Is your baby playing with toys that light up, move, and play music? All of these things can be very overwhelming for a young baby and can often cause crying.
To soothe an over-stimulated baby, try moving him into a dark, quiet room. Carrying, rocking, and singing can help a baby calm down. The best antidote to too much stimulation is one-on-one, warm, close contact with a caregiver. Wearing a baby in a carrier such as the Keababies baby wrap can also help comfort a baby who becomes anxious with too much stimulation.
5 - Baby Is Teething
Is your crying baby also drooling, sucking on his hands and fingers, gnawing on everything, and pulling at his ears? These are tell-tale signs of teething, which for most babies begins between 4 and 6 months of age. Rosy cheeks, runny noses, and slight fevers can also accompany teething.
There are many products available to soothe a teething baby, but natural remedies are always preferable. Frozen teething toys, cold wet Wash Cloths, and homemade breast milk “popsicles” are just a few ways to console a teething baby. There are special silicone necklaces mothers can wear so a teething baby can chew on them. Even some silverware made for babies are made out of material that can be soothing for teething infants to chew on. Sometimes, even just rubbing a baby’s gums gently can help alleviate some of the pain.
Pediatricians may also recommend appropriate doses of Tylenol or Motrin when teething pain interferes with a baby’s ability to eat or sleep normally.
6 - Baby is going through a Growth Spurt
A baby goes through many growth spurts during their first year of life. A growth spurt is a period of accelerated physical and developmental progress. Increased fussiness often accompanies growth spurts and can cause random crying.
Growth spurts commonly occur at 3 days, 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months. Each growth spurt can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
The increased fussiness and crying that occur with growth spurts can be alleviated through extra sleep and more one-on-one interaction through play, going on walks, reading stories, or babywearing.
7 - Baby is Craving Your Attention
Babies need a lot of attention. They do not know how to play independently or entertain themselves for hours as an older child does. Babies do not enjoy being alone in their crib or set down on a play mat by themselves. They crave human interaction.
Some babies will cry because they need the attention of a caregiver. In a world where parents can often get distracted by television, cell phones, and tablets, babies need love and affection more than ever. Babies want to hear your voice, see your eyes, and watch you move. They want you to get down on their level, see what they see, and experience their excitement as they learn new skills.
If your baby has been playing on his own and suddenly starts whining or crying, try playing with him, talking to him, or holding him – he might just seem some attention!
8 - Baby needs a clean Diaper
Let’s be realistic - no one wants to sit in a soiled diaper (although strangely, some babies don’t seem to mind)! Some babies will fuss, whine, and cry the minute they have a dirty diaper. Newborns often need 6-10 diaper changes every day and often need changing after every feeding. At about 6 months, a baby still goes through 5-7 diapers per day. An older baby will need about 4-6 diaper changes every day. That’s a lot of diapers!
If your baby is crying for no apparent reason, do what all parents learn to do: pick up your baby and perform the “sniff test.”
Nowadays, many diaper brands even have wetness indicators – a line that changes color when baby pees – so it’s even easier to spot a baby in need of a clean diaper!
Check out Keababies Diaper Bag Backpack it will help you be organized with all your baby stuff.
9 - Baby is not feeling well
Babies have immature immune systems and get sick a lot, especially if they attend daycare or live in a house with older children. Illness can cause a baby to cry more than usual, even before the baby exhibits any symptoms of illness. If a baby’s cries are louder, more distressing, and longer than usual, keep a close eye on your baby for a few days and watch for other signs of sickness such as fever, chills, sweating, coughing, congestion, wheezing, vomiting, or inability to sleep or eat. If your baby shows any of these signs accompanied by excessive crying, it may be time to reach out to your child’s pediatrician.
10 - Baby is gassy
Because of their immature digestive systems, babies often have a lot of gas and become fussy when the gas makes them uncomfortable. Babies often gulp in air, and not just while they eat. Sucking on fingers, using a pacifier, and having the hiccups can also cause a baby to swallow a lot of air.
If your baby is crying while also scrunching his legs up or arching his back, this could be a sign of excess gas. Some easy ways to relieve gassiness are bicycle legs, trying different burping positions, keeping baby upright after feeding, burping baby multiple times during a feeding, and belly massages. There are also over the counter products available in most pharmacies and supermarkets that help a gassy baby feel better!
If your baby is crying and doesn’t seem to be hungry, be sure to check for these ten things!
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Sara Gale
Sara loves traveling and exploring new places with her family. She is mom to 2 lovely children and loves bringing them out on adventures.