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Crying - What it is

Help! My Baby Is Crying

Mothers frequently feel helpless when their babies cry excessively and nothing seems to pacify them. They do not know if the baby is ill, uncomfortable, afraid or just cranky or gassy. "What should I do?", many ask. The following are some common reasons why babies cry and ways to pacify them

  1. Hunger is the most common cause of crying in a baby. If your baby is hungry, then a feed/breastfeed will easily stop the crying. Do not feed your baby with water. Babies only need milk till they are 6 months old.

  2. Pain could also be another cause. A baby in pain tends to cry in a high pitched gasping scream. It is often difficult to determine where the baby is hurting or what is causing it. Often babies cry because they are unable to pass "wind".

    • Wind trapped in his/her gut after feeds may cause uneasiness. Try burping him. You may adopt any of the following positions when burping your baby: Hold him against your chest with his head resting on your shoulder, turn him over with his torso resting on your lap, or let him sit on your lap.

    • Colic can also cause pain in babies in their first three months. Colic is an attack of abdominal pain caused by spasmodic contractions of the intestines. Although the exact cause of infant colic is not known, several factors such as excessive swallowing of air, rapid feeding, over feeding, excitement and milk allergy are contributory factors. An anxious or sleep deprived mother can also affect the baby. To relieve the pain, cuddle your baby gently or give him/her breast to latch on/suckle. Gentle rocking or a car ride (with a car seat) helps for some. These manoeuvres comforts them.

    • Infections of the ear and throat or a viral illness may also cause the baby to be crying excessively. Medical advice must be sought immediately if baby cries continuously without being able to be pacified.

    • Obstructions in intestines or stomach cause pain but they are rare. Babies with this condition cry excessively and may vomit. They should be taken to the doctor immediately.

  3. Babies are sensitive to temperature and touch. If your baby is cold, he will cry. Take him to a warm room or add an extra layer of clothing. You can also give him a cuddle. These should stop his crying. When a crying baby is irritable, he could be feeling hot. Take him out of his cot for some fresh air or change him into something cooler. If he is running a fever, seek medical advice immediately.

  4. Babies cry if they are wet or have passed a stool. Clean your baby and change the diaper. Look for diaper rash and apply barrier cream if necessary.

  5. A loud noise or a strong light that shines on the baby's face may cause a baby to be frightened or alarmed. A baby who is left alone in a dark room may cry because he is afraid and alone.You may approach him and talk or sing or hum a soothing tune/favourite tune that the baby recognises. You may not necessarily need to pick him up everytime he cries. You may have a baby light/night light on in the room where the baby sleeps.

  6. From the sixth month you may find your baby crying if he does not get what he wants. By this time mothers usually recognise the type of cry and attend to her baby as needed.

  7. From the ninth month, the child may show signs of possessiveness. He may cry as he demands your attention, especially when he sees his mother cuddling another baby. Excessive crying during this period is almost always due to the child's need for comfort, love and security.

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The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth