WHY BABIES CRY AND HOW TO SOOTHE A CRYING INFANT
A baby’s cry is distressing for parents and caregivers; it is meant to be. It is the baby’s main way of letting people know that something is not right and that he needs help. A new baby cannot care for himself, and has to call for help.
Research shows that crying follows a developmental pattern (the crying curve) during the first few months of life. (In a 24-hour period) Crying increases at two or three weeks of age, peaks between six and eight weeks, and then slows down after that, generally hitting its lowest level by around four months.
Babies seem to cry more often during late afternoons and early evenings, when they need to release tension after a long day. If a baby cries continually for more than an hour, especially a high, piercing cry, the doctor needs to be called. A high pitched, piercing cry may mean that the baby is sick or has some injury you don’t know about. A doctor can advise you as to whether the baby needs to be seen.
Babies that have excessive crying (Rule of 3's: >3 hrs/day, for at least 3 days per week, for >3wks) beyond the first 6 months of life may need to be evaluated for sleep, eating or other regulatory problems.
Reasons Babies Cry
- Wrap in a small blankent
- White noise
- Take them for a ride in the car or stroller
- Warm bath
- Gently massage their whole body
- Toys that make noise
- Wash their face with a cool cloth
- Lay down with their ear to your heart
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Through education and awareness programs about shaken baby syndrome, parents and caregivers can learn alternative methods of calming themselves and handling a crying baby. Shaken Baby Syndrome is 100% preventable.
- Call a friend, relative or neighbor to come over for support and/or take care of the baby while you take a break. It can be straining to care for a crying baby and the baby can sense your anguish.
- Have someone relieve you for a few hours if possible.
- Call the crisis hotline if necessary! The number can be found online. This number should also be posted in/on/near your phone.
- As a child care provider please let a co-worker know if you cannot handle a crying baby. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you feel you can’t handle it. As a child care professional, your honesty is appreciated!
- Become informed on the care and normal development of infants.
- Understand that feelings of frustration are common and very normal.
- Learn how to handle those feelings through community education and support programs.
- Shaking is dangerous.
- Child care providers must be informed and experienced.
- Never shake a baby or child, whether in play or in anger, or throw infants into the air.
- It is never ok to shake a baby. Do not hold a baby during an argument.
- Victims of SBS have been violently shaken. The injuries sustained are as severe as those that would occur if an infant was dropped from a high building.
- Remember the fragility of an infant’s brain, to always support the head and neck, and even minor injuries can have lifelong consequences.
For more information on copying with a crying baby, try our online classes: