Crying, especially in the late afternoons and early evening, may increase during the first 6 to 8 weeks. Two to three hours of crying a day in the first 3 months is considered normal.
Crying is a natural part of a child's development. The main purpose of a baby's crying, believe it or not, is to talk to you. A crying baby is trying to tell you something and your job is to figure out why your baby is crying and what, if anything, you can do about it. Initially, all crying sounds are the same but after a few weeks of listening and responding to your newborn's cries, you'll begin to crack your infant's code and have an idea of what your baby is trying to tell you.
What your crying baby may be thinking and what to do then:
- I'm hungry. Most newborns eat every few hours round-the-clock.
- I need to burp. During and after each feeding, take time to burp your baby. But don't stop there. Your baby may need to burp between feedings as well.
- I'm wet. Check your baby's diaper often to make sure it's clean and dry.
- I'm tired. Your baby may need more sleep than you think. Newborns often sleep up to 16 hours every day. Some newborns sleep even more.
- I want to move. Sometimes a rocking session or walk through the house is enough to soothe a crying baby. In other cases, a change of position is all that's needed. Keeping safety precautions in mind, try a baby swing or vibrating infant seat.
- I'm lonely. Sometimes simply seeing you, hearing your voice or being cuddled may stop the tears. Gentle massage or light pats on the back may soothe a crying baby, too.
- I'm hot. A baby who's too hot is likely to be uncomfortable. The same goes for a baby who's too cold. Add or remove a layer of clothing as needed.
- I want to suck on something. Sucking is a natural reflex. For many babies, it's a comforting, soothing activity.
- I've had enough. Too much noise, movement or visual stimulation may drive your baby to tears. Move to a calmer environment or place your baby in the crib. Listening to slow music or singing baby songs may help your crying baby to relax.
- It's just that time of day. Many babies have predictable periods of crying during the day, often in the late afternoon and early evening. There may be little you can do but comfort your baby as the crying runs its course.
- My tummy hurts. If you suspect that a certain food or drink is making your baby fussier than usual, avoid it for several days to see if it makes a difference.
- It's natural for babies to cry, even when nothing is wrong, just to expend excess energy and begin to interact with their environment. This new, noisy, world can be overwhelming for a baby--especially when compared to the sights and sounds of mother's womb.
- Stay calm in the face of their crying tantrums and remind yourself that crying is just a part of the healthy development of your child.
- Take care of yourself, too. Take a break. When you've done what you can, ask someone else to take over for a while. Even an hour on your own can help renew your coping strength. If you can, sleep when the baby sleeps — even during the day. Avoid caffeine.
- Remember that it's temporary. Crying spells often peak at about six to eight weeks and then gradually decrease.
- Know when to call the doctor. If you're concerned about the crying or your baby isn't eating, sleeping or behaving like usual, call your baby's doctor. He or she can help you tell the difference between normal tears and something more serious.
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