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Decoding Your Baby's Crying

​Soothing a crying baby is one of the more difficult challenges a new parent will face. There will be times when it seems like there's nothing causing the crying, so it will be hard to figure out how to get them to stop.

Crying is perfectly normal for a baby. At about two or three weeks old, you'll start to notice them crying more. This usually peaks at around eight or nine weeks, becoming less frequent at around three to four months. It's not unusual for a baby to cry so intensely that their face becomes red or purple, or that they appear to be in pain.  

Understanding Why Baby is Crying

There are steps parents can take to understand why baby is crying, and then to help soothe them.

Make sure to watch the clock when keeping track of baby's activities. When you have a newborn, days and nights get mixed up. You're doing something with baby every two or three hours. It's easy to lose track of time. Keep track of the details of your baby's waking hours and ask all caregivers to do the same. Make notes on:

  • Feeding schedule
  • Sleep patterns, including night waking and wake windows (the time between waking and going down for the next nap)
  • Diaper changes and type (wet only, type of poop)
  • Playtime
  • Clothes they're wearing

Tracking baby's activities may seem like a lot, but you'll begin to identify patterns, which will help you understand your baby's non-verbal cues. Those cues will help you learn when they may be hungry, need a nap or diaper change or simply want more attention.

Go down your list. Was their nap 15 minutes ago? Then they're not tired. They just ate, but maybe their diaper's wet. They may just want some playtime. It can even be something as simple as they don't like the feel or fit of their clothes.

Colicky Babies and When to Call Your Pediatrician

A colicky baby is one that cries for more than three hours at a time, more than three times a week. You can try soothing a colicky baby by rubbing their tummy, skin-to-skin contact, dimming lights and running a machine that makes white noise, such as a vacuum cleaner or clothes drier.

If you get to the point where you simply can't get baby to stop crying, and you've tried everything, call Boys Town Pediatrics. You can call either your pediatrician or our nurse hotline. No question is too small.

Cry it Out Method

Letting a baby cry it out as they fall asleep doesn't mean simply putting them in the crib, shutting the door and leaving them. It's about helping your baby learn to self-soothe, which is important for their development.

Crying it out is an effective way to help your baby fall asleep on their own. If you are considering trying the cry it out method, talk to your pediatrician about various approaches and developing a sleep plan prior to starting. This is only appropriate to use when your baby is about 5-6 months or older.

To learn more about decoding your baby's crying, you can watch the Facebook Live with Dr. Willcockson here. This Facebook Live was recorded on April 5 so the Q&A and giveaways are no longer live.​

Newborn;Parenting Pediatrics