What to do if your new baby cries all the time

When your baby is first born, he or she will not be able to communicate with you by responsively smiling or cooing, gurgling and so on. They will either be calm or crying and at first it can be difficult to interpret the meaning of the cry. It doesn’t help much when more experienced parents talk about a “hungry” cry or a “tired” cry, especially if you feel like you haven’t got a clue.

First things first – It is perfectly normal for a new born baby to cry and for you to respond. You are taking the first steps to communicating with each other.

Secondly, listening to a baby crying constantly or urgently and feeling unable to offer comfort is a terrible feeling for any parent and if you feel panic stricken, helpless or even feel that your baby doesn’t like you, this is normal.

Here are some tips to help you cope:

Go through a checklist:

  • Hungry? Try offering a feed. In the first eight weeks, especially if you are breast feeding, you need to feed on demand. So forget about routines for now. If your baby is not hungry or thirsty but needs to suck, try offering a dummy.
  • Over tired or over stimulated? Try putting your baby down to sleep, and leave them alone to settle. Over handling a tired baby can prolong the crying. Keep your voice and the lighting level low, as raised noise and light levels can be unpleasant for a baby.
  • Windy? Try holding baby upright, supported firmly against your shoulder and apply firm circular strokes to the lower back until he or she manages to pass or bring up wind.
  • Too hot or too cold? New babies are not able to control their body temperature Babies like to be warm but over heating a baby can be dangerous. The room temperature should be around 18 degrees C. During the day, check that your baby, the pram or cot are not placed in direct sunlight.
  • Dirty nappy? No baby likes to lie in dirty nappy and sometimes, it can be tricky to know when a nappy needs changing. The answer is to check regularly!
  • In discomfort? Check that your baby’s clothing is comfortable and not over tight and then check for wind, dirty nappy or nappy rash.
  • Tummy Problems? If your baby’s cries are related to feeding i.e. under or over feeding, diarrhoea or constipation, vomiting or possetting [spitting up milk], you will need to see your GP or health visitor for advice.
  • If your baby feels hot and/or crying inconsolably; the nature of the cry is different to normal, or your baby is listless, you will need to seek immediate medical help.
  • If your baby continues to cry and you’ve checked all the above, the chances are that he or she simply needs a cuddle. Holding a baby close to your body and using a gentle “shushing” sound will create a feeling of comfort.
  • Babies need to be well supported when they are held. They like to be handled in a firm and confident way. A sling type baby carrier can be useful if you have a baby that really doesn’t like to be put down.
  • Snuggling up with your baby will allow you to have a much needed rest. Don’t think that you are “spoiling” your baby with cuddles.
  • Movement often helps, so try a car or pram ride, or place your baby in a bouncy chair.
  • Finally, remember that your baby is not crying on purpose. If you find yourself getting upset or angry; place him or her in a safe place for a short time then walk away, have a little cry yourself or telephone someone for moral support.
  • If your baby cries a lot and/or you feel like you’re not coping, you are absolutely not alone. Talk to your family, partner, health visitor or GP or ring the “Cry-sis” helpline on 08451 228 669.

Copyright Andrea Grace