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Excessive Crying

Introduction

Excessive crying in newborns and young infants is a common problem for most parents. Crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you that something is not right with him.

Signs & symptoms

Babies usually cry when :

  • Hungry or thirsty.
  • Sleepy or tired.
  • Cold or wet.
  • Want to be held.
  • Need a diaper change.
  • In pain or discomfort.

Excessive crying can be defined as :

  • Crying continuously for an unusually long period of time;
  • Crying despite having met all of his needs;
  • Cries that sound different from his usual cry;
  • Crying associated with abnormal movements such as pulling up of baby’s legs.

Specific conditions that may cause excessive crying:

  • Abdominal colic.
  • Illness.

Treatment

Respond to your baby’s cries promptly. With time and experience you will learn to identify what your baby needs and respond accordingly.

  • A baby whose feeds have been delayed may respond to prompt feeding.
  • A baby with wet or soiled diapers may just want his diapers changed.
  • A cold baby will respond to being wrapped in a blanket / prewarmed cloth.
  • Check to see if anything is causing him pain (such as an open diaper pin or an insect bite).
  • Holding the baby close or gently rocking him may soothe a distressed baby
  • Gently pat or stroke your baby on the back or chest.

Sometimes babies cry despite all efforts to soothe them. Do not get distressed yourself as this will upset your baby further. Never shake a baby as you can cause severe injury to your baby’s neck and brain. If you feel too distressed ask a friend or relative to take over for a while. Give yourself time to calm down before resuming the care of your baby.

Abdominal colic

Colic is defined as 3 or more hours a day of continued crying and usually goes away by three months of age. If your baby cries, pulls up his legs and passes a lot of gas, he may have colic. Tips :

  • Hold baby upright during feeds and burp him well after feeding. Walking with your baby upright on your shoulder or gently rocking him may soothe him.
  • If crying persists, seek medical attention.

Illness

Please be aware that excessive crying can be a sign of a serious illness. If your baby continues to cry despite all measures to console him and has any of the additional signs mentioned above, do not hesitate to seek medical attention promptly.

Last reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim
Dr. Terrence Thomas
Dr. Umathevi Paramasivam
Reviewer : Dr. Sabeera Begum bt. Kader Ibrahim