We have assessed your baby and are satisfied that there is no serious medical cause for their crying and they are safe to be discharged. This leaflet has been designed to offer you some help and support for your baby’s crying.
Why does my baby cry?
Crying is normal for babies and is one of the ways they communicate with you. Babies often cry for 2 to 3 hours each day. New-borns need about 16 hours of sleep a day which gets less as they get older.
Crying isn’t harmful to babies and medical treatment isn’t usually necessary. Help and support is available.
A crying baby may:
- Be too hot or too cold
- Be hungry or thirsty
- Have trapped wind/colic
- Have a dirty/wet nappy
- Want some company or close contact
How can I help my baby?
Simple self-soothing and safe swaddling techniques can help to soothe babies (see LullabyTrust).
Babies also like movement: try walking around with them over your shoulder or in a sling, which keeps them upright and helps to prevent them swallowing air.
They can feel close to you, hear your heartbeat and see your face.
Some parents find white noise or music can help to calm crying infants.
Singing a song, baby massage or changing the surroundings can also really help.
How can I help myself?
Taking care of yourself is very important. Many caregivers forget about looking after themselves.
Ask friends and family for support to help look after the baby, or ask them to help around the house.
Use any free time to rest, eat well and unwind.
Aim to see or speak to other adults every day. This can include going out for a short walk with your baby to avoid spending all your time alone.
Dealing with a crying baby can be stressful. If you find yourself getting frustrated put your baby somewhere safe and take a short break.
Never shake a baby as this can cause serious injury. If you feel overwhelmed it is ok to ask for help and advice.
When to seek medical attention for your baby
- They are struggling to breathe
- They have a temperature over 38ºC if under 3 months old
- They have a rash that doesn’t disappear when you press a glass against it
- They refuse more than half of their feeds
- They have persistent vomiting (e.g. more than half of feeds)
- They have fewer wet nappies than normal
- They become pale, floppy, or less responsive
- You are worried
Crying and feeding
Your baby can cry if they are over or underfed. There is no right or wrong techniques for breast or bottle feeding and both can be challenging at first. It just depends on what works best for you and your baby.
Breast fed babies tend to feed every 2 to 3 hours although it can vary, and ideally they will have 8 to 12 feeds a day. Your baby will let you know when they are full. Allow them to come away from the breast when they want to.
You can discuss your baby’s breast feeding with your health visitor or access local and national support online.
Try to aim for 6 to 8 feeds a day in bottle fed babies, and roughly 150ml (5.5 oz.) per kg of bodyweight in that time. If your baby is having too much milk, they may appear in discomfort and vomit.
As they develop, your baby may sleep longer overnight and take more of their milk during the daytime.
Crying and colic
Colic is a word used for babies that cry a lot. It is defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day on more than 3 days a week.
Colic is a common problem that affects 1 in 5 babies and although it is not harmful, the effects of sleepless nights on parents can be very stressful. Colic develops in the early weeks of life, peaking at 6 to 8 weeks and starts to improve at around 3 to 4 months.
Colic is thought to be linked with excess wind, digestion and discomfort in young babies. It is often worse in late afternoon or early evening and simple solutions as previously mentioned can really help.
If your baby has gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) the food and drink travels down the food pipe as normal but then some of the mixture of food, drink and acid from the stomach travels back up.
It happens because the food pipe is still developing. Your baby may spit up small amounts of milk and may be unsettled during or after feeds. It is very common in young babies and improves as the baby grows. In 90% of affected infants it resolves by 1 year of age.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) refers to GOR that causes severe symptoms that need medical treatment. Please discuss with your GP if you are concerned about this.
Cow’s milk protein allergy
During your visit we may have discussed the possibility that your baby has a cow’s milk protein allergy. This may require follow up by your GP. Lactose intolerance is a much rarer problem that usually arises after a tummy bug.
For more information and support contact:
I – Infant crying is normal
C – Comforting methods can help
O – It’s ok to walk away
N – Never, ever shake a baby
Practice Plus Brighton Walk-in Centre / GP Service
Telephone 0333 321 0946
Every day including bank holidays 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
For out of hours GP service or advice ring NHS 111.
The information in this leaflet is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.