Babies cry for different reasons. Crying is one way babies try to tell us what they need. They may be hungry, have a soiled diaper, or just want a little attention. (See checklist at the end of this brochure.) If a crying baby cannot be comforted, the cause may be colic. Read on for more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about colic and ways to calm a crying baby.
What is colic?
Colic is a word used to describe healthy babies who cry a lot and are hard to comfort. No one knows for sure what causes colic, but it may be an immaturity of the digestive system. In general, babies with colic will be fussy but continue to gain weight and develop normally. If you are concerned, it is best to check with your child's doctor to make sure there is not another medical cause.
What your baby may need checklist
Here are some other reasons why your baby may cry and tips on what you can try to meet that need.
If your baby is...
Hungry. Keep track of feeding times and look for early signs of hunger, such as lip-smacking or moving fists to his mouth.
Cold or hot. Dress your baby in about the same layers of clothing that you are wearing to be comfortable.
Wet or soiled. Check the diaper. In the first few months, babies wet and soil their diapers a lot.
Spitting up or vomiting a lot. Some babies have symptoms from gastroesophageal reflux (GER), and the fussiness can be confused with colic. Contact your child's doctor if your baby is fussy after feeding, has excessive spitting or vomiting, and is losing or not gaining weight.
Sick (has a fever or other illness). Check your baby's temperature. If your baby is younger than 2 months and has a fever, call your child's doctor right away.
Overstimulated. See Ways to calm a fussy or colicky baby.
Bored. Quietly sing or hum a song to your baby. Go for a walk.
Parents and caregivers need breaks from crying babies
If you have tried to calm your crying baby but nothing seems to work, you may need to take a moment for yourself. Crying can be tough to handle, especially if you're physically tired and mentally exhausted.
Take a deep breath and count to 10.
Place your baby in a safe place, such as crib or playpen without blankets and stuffed animals; leave the room; and let your baby cry alone for about 10 to 15 minutes.
While your baby is in a safe place, consider some actions that may help calm you down.
Listen to music for a few minutes.
Call a friend or family member for emotional support.
Do simple household chores, such as vacuuming or washing the dishes.
If you have not calmed after 10 to 15 minutes, check on your baby but do not pick up your baby until you feel you have calmed down.
When you have calmed down, go back and pick up your baby. If your baby is still crying, retry soothing measures.
Call your child's doctor. There may be a medical reason why your baby is crying.
Try to be patient. Keeping your baby safe is the most important thing you can do. It is normal to feel upset, frustrated, or even angry, but it is important to keep your behavior under control. Remember, it is never safe to shake, throw, hit, slam, or jerk any child—and it never solves the problem!