Why do babies cry?

5 Aug 2020

A crying baby isn’t fun, and it’s all part of being a new parent. Sometimes the crying can feel like it’s never going to end, and no amount of swaddling and singing helps. It’s not all doom and gloom, however – most babies (even colicky ones) eventually stop crying. 

Here’s all you need to know about crying babies (and how to comfort them).

What’s normal? 

Time never moves as slowly as when your child is crying. Sometimes it can feel like your baby cries all the time, but maybe that’s not the case. Studies show that infants cry or are restless for about three hours a day, and it peaks at around six weeks. But, we know, it feels like forever.

All babies are born with unique personalities– and this has an impact on how much the baby cries. Some babies are a quiet dream, some make a fair amount of noise, while others, for some unfortunate parents, have colic. Colic isn’t anything to worry about; it just means that baby has problems with their digestion and is very uncomfortable. The bad news is that there’s not much you can do about a colicky baby; the good news is that it usually ends after four months. As always, if you’re concerned about how much your baby cries, always consult your GP or paediatrician. 


What does the crying mean? 

Crying can mean so many things: I’m hungry, I don’t want to sit here, this is uncomfortable, I can’t sleep, I don’t want to lie in these arms. Occasionally, there’s more crying and fuss, usually during periods of intensive development or growth. But ultimately, crying is your baby’s way of communicating. 

In time, you’ll recognise what the crying is about. It can be difficult, and you won’t always understand why your child is upset – and maybe baby doesn’t even know. One thing’s for sure: you’ll get better at guessing. 


How to comfort a crying baby 

In the past it was thought to be good to let babies cry, because it was ‘good for their lungs’, but that's not the case anymore. Pick up your baby if you want, even if those around you object – this isn't spoiling your baby. Follow your intuition and see what feels right. Some tips include:

  • Swaddle baby to make them feel secure
  • Play a constant sound (like white noise or gentle music)
  • Let baby suck on something
  • Put baby on their side or stomach (but always put them to their back when they go to sleep)
  • Create a rhythmic motion of any kind (drive baby round the block, push them in their stroller). 


Remember, crying is a way for your baby to communicate with you, and most of the time it’s perfectly normal. You just have to hang tight. It might take a few months and many tears (including yours!), but it does get better.