Crying is naturally how babies communicate. But, when you’re overwhelmed and sleep-deprived, your little one’s tears can be hard to manage, especially when you can’t identify the reason for their fussiness. Over time, you may be able to recognize cues as to why your baby is crying. Here are some of the most common reasons babies cry.

Hunger: Some indicators that a baby is hungry can include opening their mouth as though trying to latch, turning their head side-to-side, or raising their hands to mouth.

Dirty nappy: Check their nappy – it may be uncomfortable and need a change.

Tiredness: Perhaps they’re tired – try calming them down with a massage or a lullaby and putting them to bed for a nap. You’ll know soon enough whether or not they’re ready to sleep.

Gas: Maybe they feel gassy. Try burping your baby. Massaging their tummy and gently moving their legs in a cycling motion while on their back may help pass wind.

Attention: Crying makes people pay attention to you! Sometimes a burst of crying will be short-lived as soon as the baby receives a bit of TLC.

Pain: Check for signs of pain and discomfort. No need to assume your crying baby is hurt, but it may help to rule it out.

Excessive and persistent crying can sometimes be a case of colic. As a rule of thumb, crying may be colic if it lasts for three or more hours a day, for three or more days a week, for three or more weeks. Colic is often a waiting game.

Sometimes you won’t be able to figure out why your baby is crying. This does not mean you aren’t doing a good job as a parent. Babies are constantly processing new information – it’s hard work! Sometimes a baby will just cry. This is distressing for a parent, but remember it’s not a reflection on you, as long as you’re keeping your little one fed, clean, and loved.

Here are some general suggestions for soothing a crying baby:

Simulate the womb

Your baby will be comforted by feelings that remind them of the safety of your womb.

These could include:

Sound: There is a constant gushing-type noise for a baby in the womb. Try making a ‘hush-hush’ sound, or use running water to mimic this. Nature sounds or white noise may be helpful too.

Touch: The womb makes your baby feel warm and safe. A warm bath can help recreate this comforting environment. Remember to always keep an eye on your baby whenever they are near water. Swaddling can achieve a similar effect. Make sure your little one can still stretch their legs, and their chest or hips aren’t bound too tightly.

Change environments

Your baby could be crying because they’re overwhelmed by stimuli. Try removing yourselves from stimulus – if you’re out and about, try stepping outside to a quieter place, or sitting in the car together for some quiet time. If you’re at home, move to a darker, more peaceful part of the house.

Alternatively, being distracted may help. Try giving them a new object to play with, or singing a song.

Other tips

Your voice will be comforting to your little one. Gently crooning or singing may remind them they are safe.

Your baby may also feel relaxed by being gently rocked in your arms.

Practice patience. Hearing your baby cry is hard! We’re wired to feel worried by it. Do your best to tend to their needs. Sometimes you will simply need to wait it out.

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