All babies cry, although some babies cry a lot more than others. It doesn’t always mean your baby’s in pain or uncomfortable.
Your baby will cry when they:
Whatever the reason, your baby cries to get your attention. As you get to know each other you’ll get better at understanding what they need.
Colic is when your baby’s healthy but cries often and excessively and it’s hard to soothe them.
One of the possible reasons is bubbles of trapped wind causing stomach pain.
Your baby can get colic if they’re:
You can help to prevent colic by:
Ask your midwife, health visitor, family nurse or breastfeeding counsellor for advice.
It’s important to respond and not leave them to cry. However, if you’re getting stressed yourself, it’s okay to take some time out for a few minutes until you feel more able to cope.
If they start to cry:
You could also try:
If you’ve tried a few things and your baby’s still regularly crying a lot:
If your baby’s crying a lot, and you’re getting very upset or angry:
The ‘ICON’ approach can be a helpful way to remember what you can do if your baby is crying:
Never shake or smack your baby, no matter how frustrated you feel.
Shaking your baby is against the law and from 7 November 2020 all physical punishment of a child will also be illegal.
Shaking can cause tiny blood vessels to break and bleed inside your baby’s brain. This can cause:
It can even be fatal.
If you or anyone else shakes your baby, get medical help immediately. Don’t wait.
If your baby keeps crying, even though you’re trying everything or you’re worried about them, it’s important to trust your instincts.
If you need support to manage and cope with crying, there are lots of places to go for help. Ask your health visitor or family nurse about local sources of support.
If you think your baby might be ill, get some advice. You can also ask your health visitor or family nurse to check your baby to make sure everything’s okay.
If your baby’s healthy you may have to accept this is the way your baby is for now. Lots of babies cry a lot and many parents worry about it, but over time they should become more settled. You’re not doing anything wrong and it’s not your fault.
Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.
25 January 2023