Managing Crying Babies

Crying – all babies and children do it, and some cry a lot. But knowing this doesn’t always make it easier to cope with crying. The good news is that children tend to cry less as they grow and develop.

Babies: crying

Babies are born with the ability to cry.

For newborns, crying is their main way of communicating. It works too. If you hear a crying baby, you usually want to do what you can to soothe him.

When your baby cries, it can sometimes be a real challenge to work out what she needs. She might be crying because she’s hungry, cold or hot, scared, overtired, in pain or uncomfortable.

Around one in 10 babies cry a lot – ‘a lot’ means more than three hours a day. Babies under 12 months of age tend to cry most in the late afternoon and early evening. This can be very stressful, especially if you’re trying to make dinner, supervise homework or give older children a bath.

If your baby has symptoms other than crying, such as vomiting, call your GP or child and family health nurse.

When you comfort your crying baby, he learns that the world is a safe and predictable place. He trusts you and tends to cry less. A young baby who’s left to cry could have a harder time forming a secure attachment to his parents.

How to manage your baby’s crying
The first step is to check whether your baby is hungry, tired or uncomfortable. Over time, you’ll get to know your baby’s crying, and what different cries mean.

If you think your baby is in pain, or you’re not sure about a symptom, make an appointment with your GP or call your family health nurse.

Here are some other helpful strategies:

  • If you can’t get your baby to settle, put her in a pram or a baby sling and go for a walk. You could even take a drive. Even if your baby doesn’t stop crying, it’s sometimes easier to cope when you’re on the move.
  • Ask for help at the times of day when your baby cries most. There might be a friend or relative who could help you.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, put your baby somewhere safe and take a five-minute break. A little bit of crying won’t hurt your baby. This stage of intense crying will pass, probably sooner than you think.


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