Why is My Baby Crying So Much?

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It may help you to remember that most parents cope with this kind of crying at some point. You can learn ways to keep yourself calm so you can take the best care of your baby.

Normal crying is “PURPLE”

You expect a baby to cry from time to time. But like many new parents, you might be surprised — and stressed — by how much, how long, and how hard your baby cries. In this case, it may help to know about “PURPLE” — an abbreviation that helps explain the crying patterns of normal, healthy infants:

P - Peak of crying. A baby may cry more each week. Generally, crying gradually increases until about two months of age, then begins to decrease.

U - Unexpected. Babies’ crying can come and go for no obvious reason.

R - Resists soothing. Babies can keep crying even when you’re doing everything you can to soothe them.

P - Pain-like face. When they’re crying, healthy babies can look like they’re in pain — even though they may not be.

L - Long bouts. Crying can last up to 5 or more hours a day.

E - Evening. Babies tend to cry more in the late afternoon and evening than at other times of the day.

 

Is My Baby's Crying Normal?

Babies going through “the crying phase” tend to cry in the same ways. Does your baby and his crying fit the following checklist?

  • My baby is between 2 weeks and 5 months old.
  • My baby seems to start crying for no reason.
  • My baby cries for hours at a time and doesn’t stop when I comfort him/her.
  • My baby looks as if he’s in pain while crying, but I can’t find anything wrong.

 

RELATED: Baby your Baby: Crying Babies

 

How Do I Cope?

The most important things to remember during the crying phase are:

  • It will eventually end.
  • You can take breaks from comforting your baby when you need to.

First, make sure your baby is fed, has a clean diaper, and does not have signs of sickness, such as a fever or rash. If you have concerns about your baby’s health, always call your pediatrician.

Next, try some different ways to comfort your baby. Swaddle him (wrap him firmly in a blanket), gently rock him, dim the lights, turn on some “white noise” like a hair dryer or vacuum cleaner, or go for a walk or ride in the car.

If you start to feel angry or upset:

  • STOP. Put your baby down in a safe place like a crib or a playpen.
  • TAKE A BREAK. Do something to relax and calm down for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • TRY AGAIN. Go back to comforting your baby when you feel calmer.

When you need help, call a relative or friend. Many people are happy to help parents with new babies. By taking breaks and asking others for help, you and your baby can survive and thrive during these challenging first few months.

Is it colic?

If you’ve ruled out other causes of crying, your baby may have colic (irritable infant syndrome).

Symptoms of colic include:

  • Crying or fussiness for more than 3 hours per day
  • Difficulty soothing your baby
  • Baby is happy much of the day, but becomes progressively fussier as the day goes on
  • Baby draws his knees up to his chest and passes gas, flails his arms, and frequently arches his back and struggles when held
  • Baby’s belly muscles may feel hard during crying

Occasionally, colic is caused by sensitivity to food in the nursing mother’s diet. Cow’s milk products such as cheese, ice cream, and butter are common sensitivities. Other food items that may cause problems include stimulants (caffeine) and gas-producing foods. Your baby’s doctor or your lactation consultant may suggest eliminating these food products for a time to see if the symptoms of colic improve.

Never shake a baby. When frustration builds, remember, the moment and crying will pass. Keep in mind that no booklet can replace the advice and care you receive from a doctor and other healthcare providers. We encourage you to consult with your baby’s doctor any time you have questions or concerns about your baby’s health.