You’ve had a restless night because your baby's been crying ... a lot. He seemed to be settled, but as soon as you put him down after his midnight feeding — wailing again. Sometimes it's impossible to know why an infant is crying, but you just need to do a little sleuthing out. "Always start with the basics," says Abigail Jennings, M.D., a pediatrician at Children's Clinic East, TriStar Summit Medical Center.
"Is your baby fed, burped, dry and comfortable?" If all of the above are satisfied, what's next? “Go with your gut,” says local mom Alison Windsor Owen. “If you can't handle the crying, go ahead and hold him while he falls asleep and don't feel guilty doing it. Make sure he’s fed, in a dry diaper and has had a snuggle. Don't feel guilty about letting him cry for a bit.”
Other causes of crying in babies:
Around 8 or 9 months, your baby may wake up screaming. Awake, he will protest when you leave his sight. This is a healthy and normal reaction and part of his development.
The first tooth can appear as early as 3 months, though it is more common around 6 months. Teething may be preceded by irritability, crying, drooling, changes in feeding habits and trouble sleeping.
Lots of little ones have issues with gas in their newly developed systems. For relief, try gently moving his legs in a bicycle rotation and holding him in the football hold with his tummy down.
Too much stimulation
Some babies can't handle a lot of noise and busy-ness. When Baby gets overtired by too much stimulation he can start crying. Think about all that's been going on with him and if this is the case, try extra soothing and quietness.
Jennings says to try common soothing techniques. "Some babies like to be swaddled while others like to be able to move their arms and legs more freely," she says. "Being held, rocked or bounced is comforting for infants. Look for baby swings or vibrating seats to help. Stroller rides or trips in the car also provide soothing movement. Some infants prefer quiet, while others are comforted by noise such as vacuum, fan, dishwasher, clothes dryer or a white noise machine," she adds.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you cannot spoil a baby by giving him plenty of attention in the first few months — respond quickly to his cries, and that will help him cry less overall. The AAP says newborns don’t cry because they think you’re a bad parent or that they don’t like you — newborns cry as much as one to four hours a day. If all of the different techniques you try really don't seem to get the job done, remain calm.
If Baby cries constantly for more than two hours, consider calling your doctor, suggests Jennings. It could be colic. This is a stressful condition for you because there's practically nothing you can do to soothe him. Be aware that the AAP advises against relying heavily on swing seats and other sitting devices due to the questionability of their safety. Seat devices don't actually help with reflux at all.
“A baby with reflux generally has less symptoms if [he's] held upright,” advises Jenifer R. Lightdale, M.D., chair of the AAP Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Executive Committee. “Placing an infant in a semi-inclined position does not make the condition better.”
If it IS colic, learn how you can help in "Colic 101: Soothing Your Crier"
No matter what, never let your frustration or irritation with your crying baby take over.
"Remember to never shake your baby. If you're frustrated and concerned that you might hurt your baby, leave them in a bassinet or car seat where he is safe and walk away for a few minutes to calm your emotions. Call a family member or friend to help with the baby and give yourself a break," adds Jennings.