A baby’s constant crying can become stressful and frustrating for parents and caregivers. This is normal. If you are feeling frustrated, it is okay to put the baby down in a safe place, like a crib, and walk away for a few minutes to calm yourself down.
Normal crying for babies
- Crying is one of the ways that babies communicate with us.
- Babies may have fussy periods in the late afternoon or evening, when parents are often more tired.
- Each baby is different, but most babies have periods of crying that last for 20 to 60 minutes at a time. This may add up to 5 to 6 hours in a day.
- In the first 5-6 months it is normal for a baby’s crying to increase in intensity.
- Your baby may continue to cry, no matter what you do. It does not mean that you are a bad parent; this is normal.
Possible reasons for crying
Babies may cry for many different reasons, but there are some things you can do to try to soothe them. It might take your baby a few minutes or longer to calm down when trying these ideas.
|Possible reason for crying
||What you can do
||Try to feeding the baby
|Needs to be close to people
||Hold baby skin-to-skin
You can also massage, rock, talk, sing or bathe the baby
Go for walks and hold baby every day
||Change baby’s diaper
Burp them or rub their back
Change baby’s positioning or bring them into another room so they can see a new environment
|Too hot/too cold
||Hold baby skin to skin
Check the room temperature
Ensure baby is dressed appropriately
|Tired or overstimulated
||Turn off lights and keep the room quiet
Rock baby gently
Rhythms or white noise may be soothing for baby
|Illness or Pain
||If baby’s cry sounds different to you or baby cannot be soothed after trying everything, see your doctor or call: Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
What to do if your baby is still crying
Sometimes babies cry for unknown reasons. Try to comfort the baby, allowing them time to respond to each thing you try. During difficult times when the baby won't stop crying never shake your baby as this could cause Shaken Baby Syndrome.
If you find yourself feeling this way, there are some things you can do that may help:
- Put your baby in a safe place like a crib, cradle, or bassinet, and take a break to calm yourself. Check on your baby every 5-10 minutes.
- Call a friend, family member, or community support for help
- Take slow, deep breaths
- Have a good cry
- Take a bath or shower
- Use positive self-talk
- Listen to music
It is also important to take care of yourself on a regular basis in order to build resilience to face difficult situations like this. You can care for yourself by:
- Sleeping when the baby sleeps
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Taking regular walks with the baby
- Organizing regular child care relief
- Connecting with other parents or caregivers
- Talking with your partner, friends, and family
Leaving your baby with other people
When leaving your baby with someone else make sure you trust this person, they do not have violent reactions, and that they are comfortable around babies. Speak with them about how to cope with the baby’s crying and help them develop a plan to stay calm. Also be sure to be available for them if they need support.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
One of the risks of this inconsolable crying is that it can be a dangerous trigger for a caregiver to hurt a baby during a moment of frustration. In fact, frustration with a baby’s crying is the most common reason for shaking a baby. Babies under one year of age are especially at risk to injury and death when they are shaken.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a type of abusive head trauma which can damage the baby’s brain, causing permanent disabilities. It can lead to life-long problems such as:
If you suspect that your child has been shaken, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room. Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome vary depending on the age of the baby, how often they’ve been abused and how forceful the shaking was. Symptoms could include:
- lack of smiling and/or vocalizing
- poor sucking and/or swallowing
- pinpointed, dilated or unequal pupil size
- difficulty breathing
- loss of consciousness