Health Library

Health Library

Newborn Crying

What are the crying patterns of a newborn?

The first cries of a newborn baby are often music to the ears of parents. However, over the next weeks and months, this "music" can become grating and painful. This is especially true when all attempts fail to stop the crying.

Surprisingly, crying does not produce tears until after the first month or two. Crying is the way babies communicate. They cry because of hunger, discomfort, frustration, fatigue, and even loneliness. Sometimes, cries can easily be answered with food, or a diaper change. Other times, it can be a mystery and crying stops as quickly as it begins.

You will soon learn differences in cries, from a cry of "I'm hungry" to "I've been overstimulated." It is important to respond to your baby's cries. Contrary to old wives' tales, young babies cannot be spoiled by being picked up when crying. Being held is reassuring and comforting when a baby cannot express him/herself any other way.

Some techniques to help console a crying baby include the following:

  • Take care of physical problems first--hunger, diaper change, need to burp.

  • Walk with baby in a sling or in a stroller.

  • Rock your baby in a rhythmic, gentle motion.

  • Try a baby swing or rocking cradle.

  • Gently pat or stroke on the back or chest.

  • Try swaddling the baby.

  • Go for a ride in the car.

  • Turn on some white noise (such as a washing machine or vacuum cleaner).

No matter how frustrated you may become, NEVER SHAKE A BABY. This can cause severe injury to the baby's fragile brain. If you become angry or frustrated, allow someone else to take over for a while. If you are alone, put the baby down in a safe place, such as the crib, and go to another room for a few moments. This will give you time to collect yourself. Then you can return to your baby and try a different tactic to comfort your baby.

Newborn Crying - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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