One thing you’ve probably already noticed about your baby brother or sister is that they cry. A LOT.  This can probably get on your nerves a bit — so it helps to understand why it is that they are crying as well as things that your parents can do to try to help the problem.

Why Do Babies Cry?

Babies do cry a lot more than most big kids do. But before you get too frustrated with the newest member of your family, remember that crying is about the only way that babies have to express themselves.  They can’t use words to tell you about what’s going on in their lives, so they cry instead. And let’s face it — it gets everyone’s attention pretty quick!

Common Reasons for Crying

There are many reasons why babies cry. Some of the most common reasons include:

What Parents Can Do to Help Soothe a Crying Baby?

Once you’ve figured out why the baby is crying, you can come up with a game plan to help calm him or her down.

  • If the baby is hungry, your parents can breastfeed or bottle feed him.
  • If the baby is tired, rocking him until he is sleepy or swaddling him and laying him down in his bed.
  • If the baby has a dirty diaper, changing it can often soothe him down.
  • If the baby is having tummy problems, burping him can often help settle him down as well. Some parents will also use an over-the-counter anti-gas medicine to help with bloating and stomach pain — but it is important to talk to the doctor before doing this.
  • If the baby is crying because he is teething, a cool teething ring or an over-the-counter infant pain formula is best — and again, it’s good to talk to the doctor about which formula can be used.
  • If a baby is crying because it is too hot or too cold, adjust the room temperature and/or the baby’s clothes to make them more comfortable. Babies can get too hot or too cold pretty easily!
  • If your parents suspect that the baby is crying because he is not feeling well, taking his temperature to see if he is running a fever and watching out for other signs of illness is a very good idea.

What Else?

Sometimes, it’s not always obvious why a baby is crying. And there are some generally things that parents will try to soothe them down if they are not sure what is wrong. This can include:

  • White noise. Running a fan or a vacuum cleaner or simply making “shushing” noises can help soothe a baby down.  Many doctors and child care experts believe that this can remind a baby of noises heard when it was still in the womb.
  • Holding/rocking. Rocking a baby in a rocking chair or carrying them around in a carrier or sling is also a great way to help babies relax.
  • Kangaroo care. “Kangaroo care” refers to your parents laying the baby against the bare skin of their chest and letting him hear the heartbeat and feel them breathing. This is especially good for premature babies but is good to help any baby to quiet down.
  • While not all parents use pacifiers, many find it is very helpful to soothe a baby down when they are fussy.
  • Road trip! When all else fails, many parents will bundle their baby into the car seat and go for a spin. The motion of the car and the white noise of the engine can help a baby get to sleep in no time!

What About Colic?

You might have heard your parents or other grown-ups talking about a “colicky” baby and wondered what that means. A baby is diagnosed with colic if he or she cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks. This can be hard on the baby and your parents — and you, too!

Babies with colic will often start crying around the same time each day and can cry inconsolably, which means that nothing your parents can do seems to soothe them down.  The crying is also usually for no apparent reason — that is to say, the baby is not tired, hungry, etc.  A colicky fit can often be difficult to watch, as babies will curl up their legs, clench their fists, screw up their faces and just cry.

Some doctors believe that colic is caused by stomach problems and recommend a medicine to help with gas pain or other stomach upset. But other believe that colicky babies might just have an underdeveloped nervous system and get overstimulated by what is around them.  It has been found that babies who are held and cuddled a lot during the day and carried around in a sling or carrier will have less crying and fussiness at night.

The great thing is that colic will pretty much go away on its own.  While it can start as early as a few weeks after birth, it usually resolves itself sometime between 3 and 5 months of age.

So now that you know a little bit more about babies and why they cry, it might be easier to understand it the next time your baby brother or sister sends up a howl at the dinner table! Be patient — once the baby begins to grow up and learns how to use words, they will not have to cry to get everything they need — and that makes it easier on the whole family!