Why your baby is crying - and how to soothe it
Crying is normal and the only way your baby can let you know that something is upsetting them. Crying may be due to hunger, feeling too hot or too cold, pain, tiredness or just plain over it. Afternoons and evenings are often times when crying is more likely to occur and babies often start to cry more intensely at around six to eight weeks of age, settling down again when they reach four of five months old.
Babies under 6 months old
Babies do not cry to make you come to them, but because they need something but don't know what it is. If you go to your baby when they cry, they will learn that the world is a safe and friendly place, and their crying will become less frequent as they grow older. Here are some ways to settle your baby:
You can help settle your baby by:
- Making sure they're not hungry or uncomfortable - try changing their nappy, giving them a feed, burping them or loosening their clothes
- Pick up your baby and hold them close - your baby may be frightened or lonely
- Rock or push your baby in their pram over a little bump the motion may stop them crying
- Finding out what soothes your baby a dummy may help, relaxing music or the sound of a vacuum cleaner
Babies over 6 months of age
As a baby grows older, crying may still be due to tiredness or hunger, but also maybe because they're missing you when you're not there. Known as separation anxiety', your bub may start to wake more at night or be harder to put to bed because they miss you and don't yet understand that you'll come back.
You can help by:
- Always letting your baby know when you leave. Never sneak off, but wave goodbye and tell them that you'll return
- Hide and seek games, such as peek-a-boo, help a baby get used to an adult disappearing and reappearing again
- Only leave your baby with people she knows and feels safe with
- If your baby cries for you during the night, try putting a bed in their room or moving their cot into your room until the unsettled period ends
This article was written by Joanna Bounds for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Sources include The Children's Hospital at Westmead and SA Government's Parenting and Child Health.