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12 Questions That Will Walk You Through Every Possible Reason Your Baby Is Crying
  • No parent wants to hear her a baby cry, but he does not really have any other way of communicating with you until he learns to talk. Of course, as wired as we are to respond to a crying baby, it does not always mean he is in pain.

    “As the baby’s main form of communication, crying has so many meanings, not just pain or sadness. As babies grow older, crying is much less of a problem because older babies cry less and parents worry less,” pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, M.D., wrote in his book Dr. Spock’s Baby & Childcare.

    For first-time parents, a baby’s cry can be a little rattling, confusing, and even frustrating at first. It’s difficult to know the reason just by the sound of it (although there was an attempt to decipher this).

    To help you soothe your crying baby, here are some questions to ask. It’s a trial and error, but you’ll be better at it soon enough.

    1. Is your baby hungry?

    Checking if your baby needs to feed is the first on the list. Newborns feed more often because of their small but growing tummies. This can actually be prevented once you familiarize yourself with your baby’s different hunger cues. Anticipate your baby’s feeding times, so you can feed him more comfortably.

    2. Does your baby crave sucking?

    A “comfort latch” or her pacifier could be just what your infant needs. Even in the womb, babies already suck their thumb for comfort. They’re born with the sucking reflex that enables them to feed. It’s calming for babies, even when they’re not hungry, according to Dr. Spock’s Baby & Childcare.


    3. Does your baby want more milk?

    Say you stopped mid-feeding, your baby might let out a little whimper to tell you that he’s still hungry or wants more milk. If you’re breastfeeding, your body’s milk production will adjust accordingly (the more your baby latches, the more milk you produce). Add an ounce or two if you’re bottle-feeding breast milk or formula.

    4. Does your baby need to be held?

    Dr. Harvey Karp, M.D., a pediatrician and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, advise on calming a baby hinges on recreating the womb environment. Apart from sucking, it usually involves shushing or playing white noise, swinging or rocking the baby in a rhythmic motion, swaddling baby snugly, and skin-to-skin contact. There’s also magic hold you can try.

    5. Is your baby’s diaper wet or dirty?

    Most moms check their babies diapers if they offered the breast and didn’t take it. Some babies are more sensitive and instantly cry or complain about it, wanting you to change their diapers as soon as possible, while others don’t seem to care — it just wreaks of the smell of poop or heavy with pee that leakage is imminent.

    6. Is it gas?

    It could be that your baby has accumulated gas in the stomach while feeding that he needs to be burped. Even breastfed infants need to be burped. Pediatrician Dr. Preeti Parikh also suggests moving your baby’s legs in a bicycle motion, pushing them up gently to her chest to help him relieve gas. Observe and correct your baby’s latch and explore other breastfeeding positions. Try also switching bottles, changing nipples, or adjusting the angle of the bottle when feeding.

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    7. Could it be indigestion?

    It could also be that your baby’s still-developing digestive system is having trouble, well, digesting. If you’re breastfeeding, check what foods you ate prior that could have caused your baby’s tummy troubles and consider tweaking your diet. Consult a doctor before switching formula milk brands.

    8. Is it heartburn?

    Dr. Spock explains that some babies spit up without noticing it and it can be irritating and sometimes painful for infants when acid from the stomach comes up to the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). If your baby cries “soon after feeding, when the milk is still in the stomach,” Dr. Spock advises burping your baby again. If this happens often, consult your doctor about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

    9. Is your baby sick?

    Babies who are feeling under the weather will be a little more irritable, clingy, and or sensitive than usual. He could also be teething, so try to relieve his pain. Check for other symptoms such as fever, rash, diarrhea, or vomiting. If your baby is aged 3 months or younger and has a fever, call your doctor and go to the hospital immediately.

    10. Is your baby tired?

    Newborns need more sleep, up to 16 hours in a day, and some even sleep more than they feed. It takes time for them to develop their own sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), and be able to soothe themselves to sleep. If there are disruptions to your baby’s routine, it could be a culprit in his tiredness, and he’s crying to tell you he needs his Zzz’s.


    11. Is your baby overstimulated?

    A baby can also cry as a shout for help. Say, your baby wakes up in a new environment, such as a party at home, the busy mall or a vacation place with a lot of people and too much noise, it could overload his senses. His cries then could be demand for some peace and quiet. Or, it could be that your baby is too cold or too warm that he’s crying to tell to dress him down or add another layer of clothing on him.

    12. Is it colic?

    If your baby is still crying nonstop and almost inconsolably that you question your ability to calm your baby, it might be colic. A baby who has colic “cries more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks,” and it can happen until the baby is aged 3 months old. The cause is unknown, but experts have linked several possible related reasons why colid happens in some babies but not all.

    To soothe a colicky baby, you can try what’s been mentioned above and also babywearing or grounding (find more tips that can help here!). Just remember that it will pass. If your baby develops a fever, is vomiting, losing weight, looking pale, having diarrhea and a distended stomach, or shows a presence of blood in his stool with persistent crying, alert your doctor urgently.

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