When the baby cries

a father and crying babyFor small babies, crying is a natural way of self-expression. All babies sometimes cry despite the good and competent care provided by their parents. There is always a reason why the baby cries, although at some stages of development, babies are naturally more prone to cry. Increased crying from the age of two or three weeks until the age of two months is common for all babies. At this point, the baby may cry for two, even up to four hours a day. This crying is associated with the stage of the baby’s development and usually decreases by the time the baby is four months old.

Crying is the baby’s way of communicating things such as hunger, loneliness, longing for intimacy, frustration, tiredness, a wet diaper, being too hot or cold, boredom, fear or stomach pains. Sometimes crying is a sign of pain or illness.  At first, it may be difficult to understand why the baby is crying. Over time, the parents start to recognise different types of crying and can for example tell signs of pain and hunger apart. Trying different ways to soothe the crying baby helps the parents learn to understand the baby’s signs. But then again, not even the tiny human always knows why they are crying.

Even if the baby does not stop crying, the most important thing for the crying baby is to get compassionate attention from the parents. It is important to hold the crying baby in your arms. Being close to the parent and the parent’s presence usually calm the baby down. You can also hold the baby, who should wear nothing but a diaper, close to your skin, for example inside your shirt. This is a good way to soothe the baby. During skin-to-skin contact, the baby can hear the parent’s heartbeat which is a familiar sound from the baby’s time in the womb. This helps the baby’s pulse and breathing slow down and makes the baby feel safe. If the baby is still crying after being fed and after the diaper has been checked, try soothing the baby by talking to them in a calm voice, singing, carrying the baby around in different positions and rocking the baby gently. Sometimes minimising stimuli, for example by putting the baby to bed, can calm them down.

Could the baby have colic?

Colic crying means that the baby has sudden episodes of crying and does not calm down even if you try to soothe them. A baby who suffers from colic often has a bloated and tense tummy. During the crying spells, the baby may arch their back and flail their arms around restlessly. From a medical perspective, there are three criteria for colic that must be met: the baby must cry for at least three hours a day on at least three days a week for at least three weeks. The duration of colic may vary, but it usually ends within few months. Colic is sometimes thought to be related to stomach problems but as its exact cause is unknown, there is no specific treatment either.