When you have a newborn, crying is a part of everyday life. All this crying can be very stressful, especially as you are just learning to care for your new child. And while you may understand that the crying is communication, it can be difficult to figure out what the cries mean.
Perhaps it will ease your mind a bit to know that even seasoned parents who have raised several babies into healthy kids still have a learning curve with each new baby. There is some knowledge that you carry forward from each baby you care for, but ultimately, every child is unique. It doesn't take them long to start showing their individual personalities, preferences, and sensitivities, but it can take quite a bit longer for you to figure them out.
Reasons Babies Cry
- They're hungry. Babies cry when they are hungry, and if it's been 90 minutes or more since their last feeding, there's a good chance that hunger is behind those cries.
- They have a dirty diaper. A dirty diaper can be uncomfortable, and can lead to a rash if left on your child for too long.
- They're tired. An exhausted child is often cranky, and they can wear themselves out even more with the crying.
- They're overfed. Too much food — or being fed too frequently — can lead to indigestion and a fussy baby.
- They've had stimulants. Caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, or other sources may lead to fussiness.
- They've been startled. Sudden loud noises near a baby may set them off. Babies often have no idea what's going on around them, and that can be unsettling.
- They're going through a growth spurt. Babies are constantly growing, but they may have spurts of growth as well. The La Leche League of Canada explains that during those times, the baby may be hungrier and fussier than usual.
- They're uncomfortable. There may be some crying if a baby gets uncomfortably bound up in clothing or blankets. They can also be picky about temperature, and don't like being too hot or too cold.
- They have colic. Babies that cry for more that three hours per day may have colic. The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that as many as 20 percent of babies may have colic, and that it usually starts around three weeks of age and resolves by the time the baby is 12 weeks old. Colicky babies usually cry about the same time every day — often in the evening — and they have moments of contentment and happiness when they are not crying.
- They're in pain. Keep an eye out for possible illnesses or injuries that may cause pain. Earaches or sores in the mouth can be a source of distress for your little one. When serious pain is an issue, the baby will likely be irritable even when not crying.
When to Seek Support
Take note of the resources you can turn to if you have questions about your newborn's crying. It really does take a village to raise a child, and sometimes that means calling on the collective knowledge of the other parents, breastfeeding consultants, nurses, and doctors in your village. You should get immediate help if your baby isn't moving, seems limp or weak, or something seems to be really wrong, especially if your child is less than a month old.
Of all the stresses that come with a newborn, crying can be one of the most difficult to endure. You're not alone in this; feeling stressed during this time is normal. So is asking for help. Schedule breaks for yourself when someone else can watch the baby. It's important to take care of yourself during this time as well.
For more guidance through this exciting, but at times challenging, time, download the My Baby app.