Wondering why your baby appears to be crying constantly for seemingly no good reason?
The wailing of a newborn baby is one of the most stressful and upsetting things about being a parent.
There is a reason why the sound of a crying baby is often used in SAS military training. It’s a form of psychological torture!
The human brain is trained instinctively to seek out a crying baby and provide it comfort and protection. It’s human survival 101.
For me, I always found my own babies crying 10 times more stressful and all-consuming compared to other babies.
I suppose this is because I knew that it’s me that needs to respond to this baby! I’m the one with primary responsibility!
A crying baby, especially your own, can actually make it impossible for you to concentrate on anything else. Your brain shuts down and can focus only on helping to soothe the upset.
BUT, what if you have zero clue what the problem is?
Why is your baby crying for now reason at all?
Your brain probably goes into panic mode when you can’t figure out the reason. You need to make the crying stop, but you have zero clue why!
Hormonal changes and changes to your brain after birth heighten these natural feelings, and can make them feel overwhelming. The crying may also make feelings of anxiety spike.
So what can you do when you don’t know why your baby is crying?
The truth of the matter is, nine times out of 10, there is a good reason.
Babies are instinctual little creatures. The reach out to you to fulfil their needs, and they make it sound urgent, straight away.
We’re going to talk about why your baby might be crying what you can do to fully respond to those needs AND what to do when you’ve covered all of your bases and the crying STILL will not stop.
Reasons your baby is crying and what to do about it
In order to figure out what’s going on with your baby you need to work through “the list”.
You can’t ask your baby what’s wrong, and if you’re new to this parenting thing then you may not have yet figured out the different cries and what they all mean.
If you do want to learn a little more about the sounds your baby makes and how to translate them, you can check out this cool YouTube vid.
In the early weeks when you are learning about your baby, it’s all about the process of elimination! So go through “the list” and this way you can rule out every potential cause for the crying.
Number one on the list is a hungry tummy. Do not underestimate how frequently your newborn may want to feed, especially if you are breastfeeding.
In the early weeks your baby is building up your supply, and has only a tiny tummy. They need to suckle frequently in order to stimulate your milk production.
They also feed little and often because that is all they can handle.
Because of this, you may sometimes feel that your baby could not possibly be hungry again!
If you’re in pain from breastfeeding, this may make you feel less willing to continually put your baby to the boob.
There are a few things you can try to ease the pain on your nipples, which may be sore from getting used to this nursing thing.
Nipple shields can be great for giving you the chance to heal. Also nipple cream is so soothing and really helps to ease the discomfort.
If you have got cracks in your nipples and they are sore, rest assured they will heal quickly. Try letting them have some air as often as possible and rub a little expressed breast milk on the area too.
Babies need to sleep a lot, but they don’t know how to go to sleep. Dumb, right?
When your little one is a few days old they will be nodding off with zero difficulty but after a couple of weeks you will notice your baby needing a little more help when they get overtired.
When your baby is overtired their crying will escalate as they get more frustrated. They may turn red, arch their back and pull their knees up.
Once your baby is crying, they have already reached a point where they are overtired. Before the crying, they will show some signs of feeling sleepy.
In a newborn this may include staring off into space, making jerkier movements or becoming very still, disengaging with play and people, and becoming agitated.
Once your baby is overtired, try to soothe them in a quiet and darkened room. Walking up and down and gently rocking them can help to get them to sleep.
Taking a walk in the buggy can help them drop off quickly, but a drive in the car usually works within a matter of minutes (although they may protest a lot at being put down initially).
In order to avoid your baby becoming overtired, try to keep an eye on their awake time. Most newborns can’t cope with being awake for more than 45 minutes. Some may be a little longer than this.
When your baby has reached their maximum awake time, try putting them down for a nap, even if they have not yet displayed tired symptoms.
It’s not an exact science and you may feel like you’re missing the nap window some days. Eventually, babies even out and a pattern in their sleep emerges. By the time they are 12 weeks to 16 weeks old they will be on around three solid naps a day which you hopefully can predict much easier.
Learn more about baby routines.
For more sleep tips, check out these 25 baby sleep hacks.
Babies love comfort. They just spent nine months inside your tummy, and any amount of distance is too much.
You may find that your baby prefers mama to dada sometimes. This is because your scent is familiar to them. Of course, it could be the other way around. Babies are all different.
You cannot give your baby too much love and cuddles, so respond to their needs. By doing so, you are building trust with them which is what will make them easier to settle later on.
If you’re struggling to constantly hold your baby, try to get comfy. You could consider safe co-sleeping with them so that you can rest while keeping your baby close.
Make sure the spot you sit in the living room is comfortable, with plenty of cushions.
If your baby still cries, even when you are cuddling them close, try some walking and bouncing with them in your arms. Experiment with rhythms until you find one that your baby likes.
The need your baby has to be constantly on you is sometimes called the fourth trimester. You might not be pregnant anymore, but your baby remains permanently attached to you.
Practice good self-care to make sure you are looking after yourself as this time will be exhausting, but it will not last forever.
Has your baby been staring at the same spot for the last 30 minutes? Did they spend all day in the same room? Maybe they’re just bored.
Try mixing up the places in the house you play with your baby and enjoy some simple activities with them during their awake time.
There are 40 ideas for what to do with your baby in this article, and 21 fun things you can do to bond with your baby. You only need to do very simple activities at this stage, but it can keep your baby stimulated.
Babies tend to be the centre of attention in any room, but they can only handle the fame for so long before they get totally overwhelmed.
Your baby may get overstimulated if they are passed from person to person for a long period of time, you play with them for too long, or they are in a very intense environment, such as a coffee shop.
You may notice the signs of overstimulation before crying. In this case your baby might start to turn away from the stimulation, become agitated and their movements may become jerkier.
Too hot or too cold
Temperature is important for keeping your baby comfortable.
The general rule of thumb is to dress your baby in one more layer than yourself in order to keep them comfortable. So if you have a long-sleeved top on, add a vest under your baby’s onesie.
If you find it confusing deciding what to put your baby in for sleep, you can get a room thermometer and a sleeping bag. Depending on what tog rating you get, you can follow a rough guide about how many layers your baby will need to wear under it to stay warm or cool.
If in doubt about your baby’s comfort, stick your fingers down their top and feel the back of their neck to see if they feel too warm.
This area was one of my main areas of worry in the first year with my first baby. I had a GroEgg and GroBags, which come with a clothing guide for you to follow. This helped a lot!
An item of clothing could be pinching your baby or their nappy may be on too tight.
Investigate their clothing to make sure it is not causing the discomfort.
Bottle-fed babies tend to be more windy than breastfed babies, but all little ones may need burping.
A cry about gas pain will tend to sound urgent and your baby may draw up their legs towards where the pain is coming from.
You can help your baby with their gas by burping them regularly during a feed. If you are struggling to get burps up, try different positions for burping your baby.
You could hold them over your lap, face down, and gently rub their tummy. Or you can sit them upright, supporting their chin, and pat their back.
Try not to rub and pat too vigorously or you may bring up the entire feed.
Be sure to check your baby for a fever, as it could indicate an infection or other issue. Does your baby have a runny nose, as colds can make them very irritable, as they do adults!
Other possible causes of pain may be silent reflux. This is where the immature muscle at the top of the stomach is not closed tight enough to prevent stomach acid from rising upwards. This can cause heartburn.
Some babies actually vomit regularly with reflux, but silent reflux generally produces no vomit, though there may be some spit-up.
A doctor can help diagnose your baby with silent reflux and advise you on any best practices.
One of the best things you can do is try to keep your baby upright when you feed them, and when laying them down to sleep.
You can do this by propping up one end of their cot. I used to use books for this and it worked a treat. There are more silent reflux tips over on this post.
Why does my baby cry for no reason?
So here we are. We’ve assessed all of the real reasons your baby might be crying. Now we’re at the end of the road.
What on earth is going on then?
Perhaps by this point you’re thinking of the “C” word. Nope, nothing that rude, this is a family site (haha). Nope, we’re talking “colic”.
Now, colic is a very interesting concept, so let’s chat about what that word actually means.
Colic in a baby is generally defined as a baby who cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child.
The main theory about what causes colic is some kind of gastrointestinal pain, possibly trapped gas. But this is not definitive.
For all of the little information out there about colic, it all points to just one firm conclusion: A colicky baby cries a lot, seemingly for no reason.
Here’s the main thing you need to know about colic:
There is NO single thing that has been proven to cure/help/treat colic.
The thing is, a lot of babies could technically be described as having colic. Under the PURPLE crying theory, babies will gradually cry more on average every day in the early weeks, before peaking at around 12 weeks and then the crying will taper off.
This is normal. It’s a developmental thing. It’s frustrating, and upsetting, but it does go away.
Babies who are fussy tend to have their biggest crying period in the evenings. It’s often known as the witching hour and it is a nightmare.
Your baby may be completely inconsolable for this time. Luckily, this phase tends to only last from around two weeks until around 12 weeks. It feels like a lifetime, but it does pass.
So basically, the professionals say that while you might try a few remedies, techniques and products, ultimately you’ve got to ride it out.
And the thing is? It just goes away. So, if your baby is crying endlessly for seemingly no reason, you are confident they are not ill, you’ve fed, burped and clothed them, and a doctor has confirmed they are fit and well, there’s not much more you can do.
Comfort your baby through this phase, and remember that it will pass.
One last important thing about babies who seem to cry all of the time:
A baby who cries excessively should always be checked by a GP if you are genuinely concerned. They may perform an examination and ask a few questions to see if anything else is going on.
What to do when your baby will not stop crying
If you’ve ruled out anything of concern health wise, then now is the time to ride it out.
Unfortunately some babies cry more than others, but you need to remember that this is not what the rest of your life will be.
Although it feels like it lasts forever, in fact the newborn days are very short. I’m not saying that means you should just enjoy and treasure every minute, because if you’re exhausted then you just won’t! It’s impossible to find joy when all you want to do is face-plant into your pillow and never wake up ever again.
Find the joy where you can, but do not beat yourself up if you are having a bad day and just wish you could be on your own for a while.
Newborn days are all about the ups and downs, so what can you do to help yourself when you’re struggling through exhaustion from all the crying?
Get some help
Ask your parents or in-laws to come and stay for a few days so that you can get a few hours of respite here and there.
Do not plan anything
Pull up the drawbridge!
Stop trying to organise dozens of get-togethers with fellow mummies and having lots of visitors over.
Have a quiet week or two where you do nothing but feed, feed, feed, and cuddle your baby.
Organise easy meals
Don’t try to cook elaborate meals that take an hour to cook and leave you with a sink full of washing up to do.
Stick to ready meals and very simple, but nutritious meals.
If your relatives ask how they can help you, tell them to drop by some freezer meals such as lasagne so that you can avoid cooking altogether.
Stop the housework
In years to come, you will not marvel at how dust-free your home was in this time.
Stop dusting and vacuuming weekly. Do it fortnightly, or ask your other half to take over extra chores while you are struggling.
Come up with a schedule
If you and your partner are both awake all night and all day, you’re setting yourselves up to fail. Try setting up a system where one of you has responsibility for the baby for a few hours while the other gets some extra sleep.
If your other half is working full-time, find some hours at the weekend where they can take the baby for a walk so that you get some rest.
I hope these tips will go some way to helping you figure out why your baby is crying and give you some reassurance that it will not last forever.
Good luck, get some rest and well done.