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July 02, 2019 — Elina Nersisyan

As a new parent, it can be extremely overwhelming when your baby won’t stop crying and you just can’t figure out why. But don’t get too discouraged--it takes time to learn how to interpret your newborn’s cries. Babies cry for many different reasons, but here are six of the most common ones.

1. Baby is overtired

 

Newborns need a lot of sleep and can easily get overstimulated, even when they’ve only been awake for an hour or so. If you’re having a hard time getting baby to calm down, try wrapping her snugly in a swaddle blanket or sleep sack.

Swaddling can be very effective because it reminds babies of the warmth and security inside the womb. 

You can promote better sleep for baby by starting a sleep routine early-on. Also try to use a white-noise machine and keep her room dark and comfortably-cool at nap and bedtimes. 

2. Baby is hungry

Newborns have very small stomachs and should be fed frequently and on demand. To prevent a hangry meltdown, watch carefully for your baby’s early hunger cues

Once you notice baby stirring, opening her mouth and sticking out her tongue, feed her as soon as possible.

When feeding gets delayed, babies quickly become frustrated. Fussing can progress into intense crying within moments. Crying is a late hunger cue and you’ll need to calm baby down first before you feed her.

3. Baby has a wet or dirty diaper

Some babies fuss and cry when they have a wet or dirty nappy, while others don’t seem to care much. Check baby’s diaper often to catch wet and soiled diapers before they cause skin irritation. 

If baby wakes frequently during the night because of a wet diaper, consider investing in night-time diapers or a more absorbent brand.

4. Baby is in pain

Stomach pain from gas

Because newborns have little tummies and immature digestive systems, even the tiniest air bubble can cause major discomfort! Burp baby often to help release any trapped gas that might be in her stomach. 

Another way to relieve excess gas is to lay her on her back and gently bend her knees into her tummy.

Acid reflux

It’s completely normal for infants to spit up, but if you notice frequent vomiting combined with crying and fussing, baby could be suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). 

GERD refers to severe acid reflux that happens when the esophageal sphincter doesn’t close properly. This allows stomach contents to travel up into the esophagus, causing burning pain in baby’s throat and chest. 

If you suspect GERD, talk to your pediatrician about ways to help relieve symptoms. GERD can cause weight loss, so address it immediately with your care provider. Thankfully, babies usually outgrow this type of reflux by their first birthday.

5. Baby is sick

Inconsolable crying can be a sign that your baby isn’t feeling well or has a fever. If baby is under 3 months and has a fever, you should call your doctor right away. Fevers are harmless when your child has a mild virus, but in newborns they can be a sign of serious infection.

When your baby is fighting illness, it’s important to keep her hydrated. Offer formula or breastmilk on demand, help her get plenty of rest, and use a nasal aspirator to relieve congestion. 

A humidifier and skin-to-skin contact with mom or dad can also help baby feel more comfortable.

6. Baby is teething

Teething is a very common explanation for crying in babies. It usually begins around 4 months, although some babies start teething much sooner.

To help ease teething pain, offer your baby a wet or frozen washcloth to chew on. The coldness helps numb the pain, while the pressure on your baby’s gums may also relieve some discomfort.

What to do if baby just won’t calm down

If you’ve done everything to soothe baby and the crying still doesn’t stop, lay her down in a safe spot and take a few minutes to breathe and regroup. 

Try taking turns with your partner or a family member or friend so that you can get a break. Don’t be ashamed to seek out professional help if you need it. 

Hang in there! Babies are constantly changing. As they mature, it becomes much easier to understand what they need. Before you know it, you’ll have a toddler who will tell you what they want with actual words!