Home > Advice > Baby > Why Is My Baby Crying? When To Know If Something Is Wrong

Spoiler alert! Newborn babies cry, and it happens quite a lot.

But the good news is, it doesn’t last that long.

In the fourth trimester, it is completely normal for the wailing to take up a lot of your day *and night. It’s also natural to worry that there’s something really wrong.

Because let’s be honest, looking after a tiny human can be pretty overwhelming, and you may find you’re constantly questioning if everything is ok.  

So, to ease your mind and to dispel any fake news, we spoke to Paediatrician Dr Kiran Rahim, aka @themunchingmedic, to reveal what’s normal, when to worry and how to act if you think something’s up.  

Why is my newborn crying so much?

First things first, crying is normal. It is not your fault, and it will pass! Dr Kiran explains, “In the first 12weeks of a newborns life, they are adjusting to a world outside of the womb and undergoing some important neurodevelopment changes”, who wouldn’t want to have a little weep? It’s a lot of change for you and your baby. Dr Kiran says, “About a third of cases I see in A&E are because of a crying baby. Poor exasperated parents walk in blurry-eyed at 2 am. But usually, there isn’t something wrong, and they have a perfectly healthy baby”.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help

“It’s not your job to figure out what’s going on alone. Please seek professional help. I would rather parents came in than I not see them at all. Remember, as doctors, we are part of your village. We are happy to help you. We know that mums cry, we know that dads cry, and we bloody well know that babies cry. But nobody needs to cry alone”.

Trust your intuition

Your mother-in-law, your mum or whoever wants to chip in their two cents, is NOT the expert – YOU are! Dr Kiran says, “Even I was given advice, and I’m a paediatrician. You have to listen to your maternal instinct”.
Ok, they’re crying A LOT. Have you checked?

1, Go over the basics. Is the baby tired, has it been fed, does it need a nappy change, are they going through a growth spurt?
2. Listen to your instincts. Is this normal for your baby? If not, then it’s time to get help. Dr Kiran says, “Contact your health visitor if your baby is generally ok. GP if you’re worried, and A&E if you’re extremely concerned”.

The 5 S’s – Dr Kiran’s tips for reducing crying

Sling –studies show that carrying your baby close and often can reduce crying. 

Sucking – an effective soothing mechanism, which can be given through breastfeeding or a pacifier. *Note! Pacifiers should be avoided in breastfed babies until your milk is established around 4-6 weeks.

Shushing (or singing) – similar to white noise, this emulates the environment in the womb.

Swaddling – provides comfort as it mimics the womb. But should be stopped when babies can roll and always place babies on their backs when swaddling.

Swinging – copies the movement your baby experienced when it lived inside your belly.

Look for the red flags

“If you notice any of these symptoms or your child has a sudden onset, then take them to see a doctor immediately”, says Dr Kiran.

1. Fever (a temperature above 38C)
2. Projectile vomit, or vomit that has blood or is green.
3. Weight loss.

Read more about the alarm system here: https://www.what0-18.nhs.uk/application/files/6115/6735/1943/CS50028_NHS_Crying_baby_Advice_Sheet_Aug_19_Final_AW.pdf

What is normal crying?

“The fourth trimester can be exhausting, so stressful, and incredibly frustrating. It is important to know what normal crying is and when you should seek help”, says Dr Kiran.

• “Several studies document that the average baby cries for 2-3hrs a day”.
• “The crying phase usually peaks around 6-8 weeks and eases after the 12th”.
• “It’s often worse in the evenings and early mornings”.
• “I like to follow the rule of 3 – if your baby cries for more than 3hrs a day, for more than 3 days a week for 3 weeks, then you need to get some help”.

What is Colic?

“Colic follows the same pattern as normal crying, but there’s more of it, and with inconsolable bouts – it’s not fun!”.

• “If your baby is crying for at least 3 hours a day for 3 days a week, it may have colic. If you are concerned, then speak to your health visitor or GP”.
• “There are lots of things on the market that you can try for colic, and some of them work but don’t put your hope in them, as they’re not a guarantee”.
• “What works for one baby might not work for another. The baby market is so lucrative, and you could spend a fortune on trying out a million different remedies”.
Read more about them here https://www.instagram.com/p/CBYvH4MltXR/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

What is CMPA?

CMPA is when a baby has an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein. Dr Kiran advises, “If you’re worried, then talk to a GP. A mother’s maternal instinct isn’t given enough credit. People always say to me, but you’re the doctor, and I’m like, yeah, but you’re the Mum”. Sometimes all you need is that one to one appointment where the GP extracts the information from you. “You need that objectivity, and even if you feel like you’ve given them the answer, that’s ok, because a lot of the time that is the case”.

• CMPA commonly presents itself in the first month of life.
• Symptoms can be rashes/eczema, vomiting, loose/bloody/mucus poo, excessive sneezing, wheeze, cough, swelling and excessive crying.
• Your baby can have some of the symptoms, one of them or none of them.

Does my baby have reflux?

“It’s normal for babies to have reflux because of the way their stomach is formed”, says Dr Kiran. But that can be shown in babies in different ways. “Sometimes, they’ll cry, hiccup, bring up food or vomit. It’s a burning sensation, so more often than not, they cry and arch their backs”.

Reduce the chances of reflux:
• Keep your baby upright 30 minutes after a feed.
• Avoid tobacco exposure.
• Position your baby on your tummy when they are awake and observed.

When to worry
• If your baby is having several episodes of crying after feeds.
• If they’re vomiting a lot.
• If they’re losing weight.
• If they refuse feeds. *Babies can quickly figure out that feeding can cause pain, which makes them reluctant to feed.

Speak to your GP, and they may suggest a range of medications.

*If medications or methods don’t work just remember, 90% of babies will grow out of reflux by the age of one.

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