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Infant Crying

All babies cry. Some babies cry a little and some babies cry a lot. This does not mean there is anything wrong with your baby or that you are doing something wrong as a parent.

Crying is a child's first way of communicating. Children cry in order to tell caregivers when they need food, sleep or a change of diapers, when they are uncomfortable, sick, hurt or they want to be held. Sometimes however, it seems they cry for no reason and no matter what you do to comfort them, they cannot be soothed. This can be extremely frustrating. Over time, parents and caregivers become better at identifying their child's cries. Along with crying, a child may not act normally when she has something wrong. Infection, illness, injury, pain, or a medical problem may cause a child to not act normally.

When unsure of why your baby is crying, try eliminating the sources that you can address:

  • Check your baby’s diaper. Keep the baby clean and dry.
  • Make sure the baby is breathing easy and there are pink and warm fingers, toes, and lips.
  • Check for swelling, redness, wetness, rashes, cold fingers and toes, twisted arms or legs, folded earlobes, or pinched fingers or toes.
  • Feed and burp your baby often.
  • Snuggle your baby close to your chest.
  • Talk to your baby. The sound of your voice may be reassuring.
  • Try using soft, gentle music for comfort.
  • Make sure there is not too much noise, too much light, too much wind, or inadequate stimulation and interaction.
  • Wrap your baby in a soft blanket. Keep your baby warm and comfortable – but not too hot. 
  • Do not put your baby in a crib or bassinette wrapped in a blanket.
  • Provide gentle motion. 
  • Walk with or rock your baby.
  • Use a baby swing (if you have one).
  • Go for a walk in a stroller.
  • Go for a car ride.

When baby won't stop crying:
Almost everyone recognizes that infants cry for many reasons and that crying is a normal part of infancy. Yet, parents can feel a lot of anxiety when a baby is frequently or constantly crying. It’s important to remember that babies sometimes cry for no reason. Having a baby who won't stop crying doesn't make you a bad parent.

What can you do when your baby won’t stop crying?

  • Talk with your partner about how you can help each other.
  • Talk with other parents about how they coped.
  • If you are becoming angry, put your baby down and hold onto something you can’t throw. Count to 10, leave the room, cry into or pound a pillow, or run on the spot. 
  • Don’t touch your baby until you are calm.
  • Gently place the baby in a safe place and leave the room. Take a 10 - 15 minute break to give yourself a chance to calm down. 
  • Find someone to help you. Call a friend or relative you can trust. It is important to get away from the baby if you think you might lose control. It is just as important to be sure that the baby will be safe while you are gone. 
  • If the crying is constant, louder than usual, or the baby has a fever or is vomiting, or you have concerns that something is wrong, go to the hospital or health clinic.
  • Never shake or hit your baby.
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Updated Oct 8, 2013