March 25, 2008
WHAT TO DO WHEN BABIES CRY
Amy Movius MD
Having a baby is a wonderful experience, unlike any other. It is also hard! Sleep deprivation and an infant’s complete dependence make parenting a baby an emotionally and physically exhausting experience, as well as an exhilarating one. Then there’s the crying, frequent and sometimes relentless. Though it is completely normal for babies to cry, sometimes it can wear down the strongest caregiver. Parents may feel inadequate if they cannot stop a baby’s crying. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) happens most often during the time of infancy when crying is at its peak. This is because SBS usually results from an impulsive act of a frustrated and overwhelmed caregiver to crying.
Knowing what is normal infant crying and having a plan for coping with it is extremely important for new parents or anyone caring for infants and small children.
WHAT IS NORMAL
- Babies cry an average of 2-3 hours each day for the first 3 months of life.
- Crying increases over the first 6 to 8 weeks of life.
- Babies with colic can cry for even longer periods of time.
- Crying tends to increase in the late afternoon and early evening.
- Less than 5 percent of infants with colic (the most severe “criers”) have anything physically wrong with them, even though they may look like they are in pain.
- Babies often cry for no specific reason.
WHAT TO DO
- Pick up your baby when they cry. You cannot spoil them!
- Check to see if your baby is hungry or needs their diaper changed.
- Soothing, rocking, motions may help to calm a crying baby
- Remind yourself that crying is normal, not the baby “misbehaving”.
- If you are getting frustrated or overwhelmed, put your baby down in a safe place and go in another room to calm down for 5 to 10 minutes.. Leaving your baby to cry will NOT hurt them and you are being a good parent when you give yourself a “time out” under these circumstances.
- Identify people you can call on to give you a break when you need one.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Coping with Crying/SBS Prevention
- Pediatrics Vol 102 No 5 November 1998 Section 3. Management of Clinical Problems and Emotional Care. Colic and Crying Syndromes in Infants