Why Is My Baby Crying?

By Elizabeth Pantley November 25, 2016
The most common question that new parents have after “How can I get my baby to sleep?” is “Why is my baby crying?”.

Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution, is here to help. She answers the questions that will help you understand why your baby is crying and how you can help him sleep, so that you can get some rest too!

What are the most common reasons that babies cry?
Babies cry for five main reasons: hunger, tiredness, discomfort, over-stimulation, or needing to be held or comforted.

If you’ve checked all of the usual issues, how do you go about figuring out why your baby is crying?
There will be many times in the early months when your baby is displaying fussy behavior that is intended to tell you something – but you’ll be totally confused about what that might be.

When you aren’t sure what your baby is saying, you can use the process of elimination to help decipher the message. Rather than instant action that could be off target, hold your baby in your arms or a soft carrier while you consider the main checkpoints to give clues to your little one’s needs:
  • When is the last time your baby ate? Was it a full meal? Could baby be hungry?
  • How long since your baby last slept? If he’s been awake more than an hour or two, your baby could be tired.
  • Has baby been having a lot of active play? Is it time for quiet cuddles?
  • When was the last diaper change? Many babies dislike a wet or messy diaper.
By reviewing your baby’s situation, you can often figure out what is causing the crying.

Should I just let my baby cry sometimes?
Babies cry because they cannot talk. When your little one is calling out to you, it will be your instinct to go to your baby. Heed this call. It’s one of the most important jobs you have as a parent of a baby.

What is colic?
The term colic is often applied to any baby who cries a great deal. Not all crying babies have colic, but all colicky babies cry – and they cry hard. Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age. The symptoms include:
  • A regular period of nonstop, inconsolable crying, typically late in the day.
  • Crying bouts that last one to three hours or more.
  • A healthy and happy disposition at all other times of the day.
As babies get older, why do they cry less?
The good news is that as babies grow they do cry less. Crying tends to lessen once babies begin to communicate through sounds and body language.

What should I buy to help my baby cry less?
The best tool for a crying baby is free: two adult arms and a warm body to snuggle. You can make this task even easier by purchasing a soft sling or baby carrier. These allow you to provide your fussy baby with the carrying that helps to solve almost any problem, yet lets you have two hands free to get on with other tasks of the day.

If you have a colicky or very fussy baby, or a reluctant sleeper, you may find that a baby cradle or swinging bassinet fills the gap for those times when you need to put your baby down for a bit.