Pregnancy and Beyond

Crying is your baby's first form of communication. Babies cry differently for different reasons like hunger, physical discomfort, and stress. As you learn to translate your baby's cries you will be able to recognize what he needs.

If your baby continues to cry after you have fed and changed him, he might be tired, bored, lonely, or need to be held. Avoid feeding baby every time he cries.

When your baby cries there are a variety of ways to comfort and soothe him, including the following:

  • Rock and cuddle baby.
  • Give him a pacifier.
  • Change baby's position.
  • Hold baby on your shoulder.
  • Play soft music.
  • Sing to baby.
  • Move baby to a different room.
  • Let someone else hold baby.

It is important that you respond to your baby when he cries. Your prompt response teaches your baby that help is nearby. Checking on and comforting your baby will not "spoil" him. This makes him feel comfortable and loved. However, it is okay for your baby to cry for a few minutes while he is falling asleep after you have taken care of all his needs.

Sometimes babies display vigorous crying that cannot be soothed by feeding, rocking or other comforting measures. These crying spells usually occur in the evening. They often increase in length and intensity after 4 weeks of age and continue until 6 to 10 weeks of age. Here are some suggestions to help parents get through this difficult time:

  • Begin with a good medical evaluation by your baby's health care provider. This is important to eliminate any possibility of illness.
  • Consult your health care provider about feeding changes or colic medicines; these may or may not be effective.
  • Because crying periods frequently happen in the evening, try to reduce your stress and keep things calm at this time. You might have to rearrange your schedule so you can better attend to your baby.
  • Wrap your baby snugly in a blanket and place him in a quiet, dimly lit room.
  • When all else fails, it is important that worn out parents take a break. Ask grandparents, a babysitter, or someone else you trust, to give you help during this difficult time.

Never shake your baby! If you feel you might hurt your baby, call the Parental Stress Helpline at 1-800-367-2543.