Why Is My Baby Crying?

Table of contents

In this article, you will find:

Satisfing your baby's needs

I'm So Tired, I Haven't Slept a Wink

An often overlooked cause of crying is fatigue. If your baby is crying because he's tired, virtually anything you try will fail to soothe him. You may try bouncing your baby up and down, trying to get his attention with a toy, changing his diaper, or feeding him. Still he cries.

If you seem to be running into a brick wall in trying to get your baby to stop crying, consider the possibility of fatigue. Create a warm and peaceful sleep environment for your baby. Rock him gently for several minutes and then place him in his crib or in some other quiet, cozy place. As you cover your baby with a blanket to keep him warm, you may even hear a sigh of relief.

Ouch! That Hurts!


The ideal surrounding temperature for a newborn is a steamy 85 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature falls below 85 degrees, a new baby's body burns up a lot of energy creating warmth. Fortunately, you don't need to turn the thermostat up that high. With a room temperature of about 70 degrees, two layers of light clothing and a blanket will bring the surrounding temperature up to 85.

When you need to change your baby's diaper, keep her warm by draping a blanket over her until she's fully dressed again.

Obviously if your baby gets hurt, she will cry, but discomfort may also cause your baby to cry. The source of your baby's discomfort may be any of the following:

  • Gas pains or overfullness. Your baby may have eaten too much or taken in too much air while eating, so her belly aches. Try burping her. If she has gas pains, a big burp might help her feel better. If she ate too much, burping may cause her to spit up, so have a cloth diaper ready. Despite the mess, she'll feel much better after spitting up.
  • A full diaper. A wet diaper tends to get cold if it sits for very long. Understandably, your baby may object. A wet or dirty diaper can also cause an uncomfortable rash. Change the diaper and treat the rash, if any.
  • Injury. If your baby cries loudly in long bursts (about five seconds each) that seem to rob her of her breath, she's probably hurt. Perhaps a diaper pin came loose and is sticking her. Maybe her bottle is too hot. Or she may have bumped her head. Whatever the source of the pain, your baby first needs comforting. What was she doing when she started crying? This may give you a good clue about how your baby got hurt. Comfort and cuddle your baby first, and then take care of what ails her.
  • The temperature. Babies do not conserve heat well. When your baby feels cold, her crying not only communicates discomfort, it also generates some heat to warm her. Feel your baby's hands and feet. If they're cold and she's breathing quickly, warm your baby by holding her close to you, feeding her, adding another layer of clothing, or wrapping her up tightly in a blanket. If, on the other hand, your baby is too hot, take off a blanket or layer of clothing.

Fear and Loathing in the Nursery

Any loud noise, bright light, or sudden movement can startle your baby. If you pick him up or put him down too fast, your baby thinks he's going to fall. In fact, many times when a baby gets hurt, the shock of a sudden bump may cause as much crying as the pain itself.

If your baby seems frightened, pick him up-slowly and gently. Slide your arms under his head and bottom. Talk to him before you lift him and continue talking to him while you pick him up. Remember to support his head until he can support it himself. Then hold your baby close to help him feel warm and safe. Gently rock him and sing or talk softly to him. Or try lying down and laying your baby on top of your chest. The feeling of closeness and the sound of your heartbeat may calm him down. Swaddling also can often help calm a frightened newborn. Wrap your baby tightly inside a blanket to keep him feeling warm and safe.

Nobody Wants to Play with Me!

Your baby may want nothing more than you and your attention. Your baby is a social creature. She likes to command the attention of others-you more than anyone else. If your baby is lonely or bored, she may stop crying if you hold her.

Of course, you can't hold your baby all the time. After all, you have other things to do besides taking care of your baby. So if you need to do some chores while your baby is awake, let her come with you. Prop her up in a baby seat or lay her down on her belly near where you are washing the dishes or making the beds or vacuuming. As you go about your chores, talk to her, describing what you are doing. If your baby still insists that you hold her, try putting her in a carrier. That way, at least you have one or two free hands for your chores.

Aaaargh! and Grrrrrr!

Your baby may cry because he can't satisfy his needs. Perhaps the hole in the nipple of his bottle is too small so he can't get food fast enough to satisfy his hunger. Or maybe you took your baby off the breast or bottle to burp him too soon. Perhaps your timing is off: You want to batheM or change your baby when what he needs most is to eat or sleep, or you put him down when he needs to be held.

In later months, this frustration gives way to anger. Crying will still be his main way of communicating, of course, but with this angry cry, he'll be saying, "Stop that!" or, "You've got the nerve to leave me here!" or, "No, I want it now!" The best solution to your baby's cries of frustration is to try your best to discover and satisfy his needs.