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Why do babies cry?

It’s difficult to understand why exactly your baby might be crying, and any parent would agree that it is anguishing to hear those outbursts. As frustrating as it can be, your little one isn’t crying because they are naturally grumpy. Babies cry; it’s just what they do. As for why they cry, it’s to communicate something to you. You can be sure, that when your baby is crying, it’s because they are telling you in their own way that something isn’t right.

Some babies seem to be more sensitive to change and discomfort, and it seems like ignoring their cries would help, but the truth is it doesn’t. Sometimes, just a hug from you will make things better. Fortunately, crying hardly ever indicates a major physical problem or illness. If you might still be worried, then ask for your doctor's advice, to rule out any illness. Your doctor will be able to reassure you that your baby is developing well.

Here are some questions you could ask yourself when your bundle of joy bursts into tears:

  1. Are they hungry or thirsty?
    This is the most common reason for crying. Let your baby decide when to come off the first breast, if you're breast-feeding. Then offer the next breast. Make up an extra amount of formula and offer it if you're bottle-feeding.
  2. Are they getting a good, satisfying feed?
    Check your baby's position on the breast, to make sure they are stimulating the letdown reflex, which brings them the calorie-rich hind milk. If you are bottle-feeding, check if the teat hole is not too small (which could make sucking and swallowing difficult), or if the hole is too big and overwhelming them. 
  3. Do they need 'winding'?
    If so, sit your baby in an upright position and rub their back. This is bound to make them feel better. 
  4. Are they uncomfortably hot or cold?
    Check their chest with the back of your hand; it should feel comfortably warm, not hot and clammy, or cold. In the early weeks it is quite common for some babies to suffer from colic pain. 
  5. Are they bored and need some company?
    Some cuddles, soft singing, back-patting and a lukewarm bath, all of these have a calming effect on your baby. 
  6. Are they tired, yet unable to settle down to sleep?
    Try rocking them sideways, or up and down in the pram. This rhythmic movement accompanied by a song in your voice can soothe them easily. 
  7. Are they irritated by noise, excitement and people?
    If so, go to a quiet room with them and settle down. Sometimes, if there are too many people around the baby, it can scare the little one. 
  8. Are they in need of a diaper change?
    Check their clothing for tightness round the wrists or ankles. Any such discomfort can cause your child to cry. A baby with a diaper rash will cry in a wet or dirty diaper.

But above all, the best remedy to crying remains a comforting hug. They love the sense of security they seek in your arms, find comfort in your smell and just being near you. So, go ahead and let your baby feel the love.


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Expert on toddler care

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