Authored By: Dr. Venkata Sriram Gutta
Consultant Pediatrician & Neonatologist

Crying in babies

Often crying in babies is a cause of anxiety among family members and a reason for frequent visits to Paediatric emergency. Many a times it will not be associated with any serious problems and requires reassurance to the parents.

  1. What are the causes of crying in babies?
  • Hunger cry – hunger is the most common cause and subsides once baby is given feeds. Baby starts playing after feeding.
  • Soiled / wet diaper – Baby’s skin is so sensitive that faecal soiling and urination can cause irritation. Once diaper is changed babies calm down.
  • Before sleep – Babies become fussy before going to sleep and requires some swaddling and mom needs to keep the baby in comfortable position.
  • Excessive feeding – Some parents feed their babies more due to misconception about inadequate feeds, which causes mild bloating of tummy.
  • Improper clothing – Excessive wrapping with many layers of cloth during hot climate or inadequate clothing during winter seasons can lead to crying of babies.
  • Inadequate burping – Burping after feeding for about 10min relieves baby from swallowed air and makes them comfortable.
  • Inadequate cuddling – Often babies require cuddling from mom and feel comfortable.

              Causes of concern 

  • Nose Block – During times of cold and running nose babies can have congestion of nose which leads to transient nose block.
  • Colic – Usually in the early months of life majority of babies cry without any serious problem. But when the duration of cry is more than 3hours we may have to suspect colic.
  • Pain – Painful diaper rash, Ear ache, injection site pain, any insect bites (eg: mosquitoes)
  • Fever – When your baby is having body temperature more than 100.40f.
  • Constipation – Some babies might pass stool once in 3 to 4days, but it can be painful if it’s hard lumpy stool.
  • Urine infection – Babies may sometimes cry before voiding urine. But persistent crying while passing urine can be a sign of urinary tract infection.
  • Serious bacterial infection – Decreased activity, poor feeding, lethargy, excessive irritable crying and not interested in surroundings can be a sign of serious bacterial infection
  1. When do we suspect colic in babies?
  • Inconsolable crying for more than 3hours
  • Baby looks normal in between the bouts of crying
  • Baby crying with legs folded up into abdomen
  • Baby is getting enough feeds, but still cries
  1. Myths about crying baby
  • Passing of gas is normal in babies, which is usually misunderstood by parents. Swallowed air while feeding may also contribute to the gas. Flatus does not cause abdomen colic.
  • Regurgitation (spitting up) of feeds in small quantities may be seen in few babies, which is a self limiting condition and does not cause pain
  1. How to calm babies while crying?

Techniques that can be of some help for calming a crying baby are

  • Wrapping and swaddling the baby
  • Try to feed the baby
  • Talking to baby and singing 
  • Rocking motion, preferably in a rocker
  • Burping the baby
  • Holding up of baby in arms by mom
  • Playing light music
  1. What parents can do in case baby is inconsolable?
  • Sometimes babies cry without an apparent cause, so don’t be too anxious.
  • Be patient and visit your nearby Paediatrician 
  • If in case you cannot visit to clinic, make a teleconsultation with your Paediatrician
  • Whenever baby is not feeding well, irritable, running high temperature, breathing fast, not interested in surrounding then you may need to make a visit a Paediatric emergency.
  • Never use any medication such as ear drops, colic drops etc., without Paediatrician advice.

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