Understanding Infant Crying

Having a new baby in the house can be exciting - and a little overwhelming. As a parent, you want to make your baby happy. When your baby cries, you want to fix whatever is wrong. It can be difficult for parents to understand that crying is a normal, healthy part of infant development. Knowing how to cope with your baby's crying can help you keep your baby safe, happy and healthy, and can make your experience as a new parent more rewarding.

Crying is normal

One reason crying is so frustrating is because many new parents don't know what to expect. How much should my baby cry? Am I doing something wrong? Although inconsolable crying in young infants is frustrating, it is also normal. Healthy babies cry - and some babies cry for long periods of time. Understanding what is normal won't make your baby stop crying, but it can make you feel better about yourself and your baby.

  • What is PURPLE Crying? New research is helping parents understand that patterns of crying in young infants are a normal part of development. The Period of PURPLE Crying is used to describe the inconsolable crying that some parents experience when their infant is between about 2 weeks and 4 months old.
    • P - Peak of crying is usually at about 2 months of age.
    • U - Unexpected crying comes and goes with no apparent cause.
    • R - Infants resist soothing.
    • P - Infants look like they are in pain.
    • L - Crying can last a long time - up to 30 or 40 minutes.
    • E - Evening crying is common.
  • How much should my baby cry? Although your baby may cry more than you expected, long bouts of infant crying are normal, especially in the evening. Each baby is different, but some infants may cry up to three hours a day. The periods of crying can last as long as 30 to 40 minutes.
  • How long will it last? Fortunately, the long episodes of crying won't last forever. For most infants, crying peaks at about 2 months. After that, it tends to taper off. Developing strategies to cope with your infant's crying will help you get through this challenging time.
  • Never shake your baby. No matter how frustrated you get, don't take it out on your baby. Shaking a baby will not stop the crying, and it can cause serious, permanent harm.

What to do when your baby is crying

When your baby is crying, you want to do everything you can to calm him or her. Here are some suggestions to help soothe your baby. Keep in mind that what one baby finds soothing may cause another to cry even more. And there may be times when you will not be able to console your baby.

  • Check and make sure your baby is comfortable. Make sure your baby's clothes aren't pinching, or your baby is not lying on a toy. Is your baby too hot or too cold? Is your baby hungry? Does your baby need to be changed?
  • Check to see if your baby is sick. Check the baby's temperature. Rule out any problem needing a physician's care. If your infant is sick or has a fever, you will want to get in touch your pediatrician or primary care provider.
  • Try a pacifier. Sometimes a crying baby will be soothed with a pacifier. Although some parents are concerned about pacifiers, experts agree that the benefits of using a pacifier with an infant outweigh any risks.
  • Try soothing movements or sounds. Put your baby in a stroller and go for a walk. Or put your baby in a car seat for a ride in the car. You can also try a baby swing, which can calm a crying baby. Sometimes, babies can be soothed by the hum of a vacuum cleaner or music on the stereo.
  • Remember, it's OK for your baby to cry. If you can't soothe your baby, it's easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. If you've done everything you can to make sure your child is comfortable, put the baby in a safe place (such as the crib) and close the door. You can still check back every five or 10 minutes. Take some time to take care of yourself.
    • Call a good friend.
    • Listen to music.
    • Exercise.
    • Read a magazine.
    • Remember that the crying will come to an end.


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