Crying

All babies cry, although some babies cry a lot more than others. It doesn’t always mean your baby's in pain or uncomfortable.

Why babies cry

Your baby will cry when they:

  • are hungry or thirsty
  • are tired or bored
  • have a wet or dirty nappy
  • are lonely and want comfort

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

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.

What causes colic?

Your baby can get colic if they're:

  • not in the right position or attached properly when you’re breastfeeding
  • feeding too quickly from a bottle

Preventing colic

You can help to prevent colic by:

  • sitting or holding them upright when you’re giving a feed
  • gently massaging their tummy, though they’ll need to be calm for you to do that
  • making sure you wind them afterwards.

Ask your midwife, health visitor, family nurse or breastfeeding counsellor for advice.

Soothing a crying baby

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:

  • try skin to skin contact
  • pick them up, talk to them and cuddle them
  • rock them or pat or gently rub their back, tummy or feet
  • feed them

You could also try:

  • placing them in a sling – some babies like the closeness this brings
  • a warm bath
  • checking to see they’re not cold or overheating
  • moving them somewhere calm and quiet
  • having a change of scene – go for a walk or a drive

If your baby cries a lot

If you’ve tried a few things and your baby's still regularly crying a lot:

  • Keep a diary of your baby’s crying so you can see how things are changing
  • Talk to other mums and dads and see if they have any ideas you can use - it’s sometimes helpful to know other parents are going through the same thing and you’re doing everything you can
  • Talk to your partner, someone close to you, and your midwife, health visitor or family nurse about how the crying's affecting you and get help if you need it
  • Take some time out from your baby - ask someone you trust to look after them while you take a break

Coping with a crying baby

If your baby's crying a lot, and you’re getting very upset or angry:

  • put them down somewhere safe
  • ask someone else to hold them
  • leave the room

Never shake or smack a baby

Never shake or smack your baby, no matter how frustrated you feel. Shaking can cause tiny blood vessels to break and bleed inside your baby's brain. This can cause:

  • fits
  • blindness
  • deafness
  • learning difficulties
  • brain damage

It can even be fatal.

If you or anyone else shakes your baby, get medical help immediately. Don’t wait.

When to get help

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

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.

What to do if your baby's ill