Crying

Crying is an important means of communication by a baby- a powerful way of alerting his/her carers’ to their needs. There are three main points to bear in mind when considering babies’ crying:-

  1. Babies do a lot of it- or, at any rate, most of them do. Research
    indicates that in their first three months, 70% of babies cry for an average
    of two and a half hours a day. By twelve months the average is down by one
    hour.
  2. The amount of crying does vary greatly form one baby to another. Some
    babies cry a great deal less than the average quoted above; others,
    unfortunately cry more. If you become skilled at forestalling or calming
    your baby’s cries, you may be able to reduce the time he/she spends
    crying. Don’t count on this though! The amount a baby cries does seem to
    depend to a large extent, on his own constitution and temperament.
    The individual crying pattern of a particular child also alters as he/she
    gets older. For the first nine months babies’ crying patterns tend to be
    erratic; they settle down to greater consistency by twelve to eighteen
    months.
  3. The final point is that, worrying though crying may be, it is not all bad.
    A baby who never cries can miss out on attention. A “good” baby,
    who never seems to need to communicate by crying, is one to watch very
    carefully.

Identifying cries.

Mothers and fathers may learn to identify differing types of cry but in practical terms, however, comforting a baby is often a question of going through a mental check-list of possible causes.

Hunger

Hunger is the first thing most people think of when a baby starts to cry, and it is, indeed, the most common cause of crying in young babies. Research confirms what every mother and father knows, that most babies
cry less after they are fed, and almost all of them cry if the breast or bottle is taken away from them before they are full.

Discomfort

When a baby cries after a feed the cause is often discomfort from wind: his/her stomach is distended by air he/she has sucked in with their milk. If you hold your baby upright against your shoulder and rub his/her back they will usually burp the air out within a couple of minutes. If he/she is uncomfortable because of undigested food in his stomach or intestine, they will settle down once they have passed a bowel movement.

Too cold or too hot?

Babies are happiest at a uniformly warm temperature, and they will cry if they feel cold. This is probably why they frequently cry when the are undressed: the sudden drop in body temperature is uncomfortable for them. Usually, a baby won’t cry just because his/her nappy is wet, but they may well cry if it is not only wet but cold too.

Worrying that their babies may be cold, parents are often inclined to wrap them up too warmly- which babies don’t like either. A baby who is dressed in several layers of clothes, with a blanket on top, in a warm room, is highly likely to become fretful.