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. Here are some common reasons your child might be crying and tips on how to cope during these testing times.

Why is my baby crying?

Since crying is a newborn’s primary way of expressing their needs, this behaviour tends to peak in the early weeks and months. As your little one grows, you will get to know the differences between their sounds and how to soothe and settle them. When the tears won’t stop, it’s only natural to feel concerned or frustrated, but keep in mind that there are many reasons your baby may be crying, such as:

● Sleepiness or fatigue
● Wet or dirty nappy, which causes discomfort
● Hunger and requires feeding
● Overstimulation from noise or activity
● Colic, allergies or acid reflux
● Pain or illness
● Gas and requires burping
● Stranger anxiety
● Hot, cold or uncomfortable

Responding to your newborn

If your baby is upset, it’s likely because they need help and are trying to communicate these needs. Picking up and tending to your little one will help them feel safe and reassured. If you continue to respond calmly and consistently, you will gradually help your baby learn that they’re in a safe and comfortable environment.

If you have tried feeding, burping and changing your baby and can’t identify the cause of their crying, you may help to console them by:

● Reducing the stimulation around them, for instance, by sitting with them in a quiet, dimmed room.
● Taking them for a walk – movement can be soothing.
● Playing soft music or white noise to help settle them (e.g. ‘shushing’).
● Swaddling them to help them feel secure.
● Swaying them softly and rhythmically.

How to cope in times of stress

It’s natural to feel frustrated or confused at your baby’s crying, but it’s important to stay calm and take care of yourself, as well as your little one, during these testing times.

Recognise your limits. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take a moment to tend to these internal warning signs. Step outside for some fresh air or call a friend for moral support.
Reach out for support. Whether you need help with housework, meals or just need a little break from all the tears, enlist the help of a loved one. You are not expected to manage everything, so seek help when you need it!
Have patience. Crying is a natural part of the early stages (for you and your baby). In most cases, crying will peak at around 6 weeks and then start to settle. Keep in mind that you will also get better at recognising your baby’s cries, so the fussiness will become easier to manage.

When to call your child health nurse

If your baby’s fussiness is accompanied by other symptoms or you’re concerned about their health, talk it through with your doctor or family health nurse. In the meantime, to help you conquer these tough situations, be sure to take care of yourself as well as your little one!