There are many reasons your baby cries. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what it is, and you conclude that she’s just “crying for no reason!” But we believe that happy, content, comfortable babies just don’t cry, so if she’s bawling– or even just whimpering– there’s usually a good reason.
Here’s a checklist to help you figure out what it could be:
When my husband is holding a fussy baby, it’s the first thing he thinks of! “Here honey, he must be hungry!” Well, sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t, but it’s good to recognize the signs of hunger so can feed your baby before the crying stage.
In newborns, watch for fussing, smacking of lips, rooting (a newborn reflex that causes babies to turn toward your hand when you stroke their cheek), and putting their hands to their mouth.
I find that a good rule is to feed my baby every time he wakes up from a nap. This way, the next time he starts fussing, I know it’s because he’s tired (usually) and ready for a nap– not hungry. Trying to feed a baby when there’s something else bothering him is usually futile and ends up frustrating you and baby!
2. Dirty diaper
It’s funny, but some babies really can’t stand being dirty– or even wet. My babies are like that. Then there are others who just don’t seem to mind at all. Either way, this problem is easy to check and fix!
Have you ever wondered why babies just don’t go to sleep on their own? After all, we’d give anything to be able to stop, drop, and nap any time we felt sleepy! Instead, babies tend to fuss and cry when they get tired, and it just gets worse the more over-tired they get. Try to catch your baby at the first yawn and do whatever it is you do (rock, pat, sing) to get her to sleep.
4. Needs to burp
You don’t have to burp baby after every feeding, but it might be a good idea. Sometimes, a good burp is all he needs. Babies swallow air when they breastfeed or suck from a bottle, especially if they aren’t feeding peacefully for some reason. And we all know that having air in our tummies is not a pleasant feeling!
5. Wants attention
You fed, burped, and changed your baby’s diaper. It’s not nap time yet. So why is he fussing? He wants some attention, of course! Babies get bored too, and need stimulation, talking to, and cuddling. They like to see your face, hear your voice, and just be held close.
There is no such thing as “spoiling” your baby, or holding him “too much.” Babies thrive on love and being close to their parents. But if your arms need a break (and you need to get the housework done), try wearing your baby in a carrier or sling.
6. Tummy-ache & Colic
If your baby is crying a lot, tummy troubles associated with gas might be the problem. Babycenter defines colic as inconsolable crying for at least three hours a day, at least three days a week, at least three weeks in a row. For colic help, read more than 20 strategies for soothing a colicky baby.
Even if your baby isn’t colicky, an occasional bout of gas pain can make him miserable. If you think that may be the culprit, try putting him on his back, and pressing his legs up toward his tummy; or move his legs in a gentle bicycling motion.
7. Too hot or cold
Newborns like to be warm and cozy — but not too warm. The basic rule is, a small baby is comfortable wearing one more layer than you would need to be comfortable. To test if your baby is too hot, feel the back of his neck, under his clothes. If he feels overheated and sweaty, you need to remove a layer!
If baby is too cold, that might make him fussy as well. A draft or a cold wipe to the bottom might tick him off!
8. Something Hurts
There are all sorts of other “little” discomforts your baby might be enduring. The infamous hair wrapped around a tiny toe or finger might be cutting off circulation– not comfortable! Some babies are extra sensitive to things like scratchy fabric or clothing tags.
Then again, baby might be teething! To check if that’s the reason for the crying, try feeling his gums with your finger. On average, the first tooth breaks through between 4 and 7 months, but it can happen earlier. Find out more about teething and how to ease the pain.
9. Too much stimulation
Babies learn a lot from the world around them, but if there’s too much going on for too long, they may have a hard time processing it all. If the commotion, the noise, the blur of faces is too overwhelming, baby may have a meltdown. See if you can retreat to a quieter spot and try soothing him until he’s calm again (most likely a nap is in order, too)!
10. Not feeling well
If your baby is sick, you may notice that his “sick cry” is distinct from his “normal” crying. If your baby’s crying “just doesn’t sound right,” trust your instincts and call or see a doctor. He could be coming down with something. You may want to check his temperature and be alert for other signs of illness.
feature image from Ed2010