What you need to know

  • It's normal for babies to cry and your baby may cry for different reasons (hungry, tired, wet nappy).
  • Sometimes you'll be able to soothe your baby, other times you may not know why they're crying.
  • If you can’t comfort your baby you may get worried, stressed or angry – this is normal and it’s important to take a break if you are feeling this way.
  • Never shake your baby as it can lead to permanent brain damage or death (known as shaken baby syndrome).

Why is my baby crying?

Every baby will fuss and cry different amounts, and for different reasons. If your baby is crying, they may be:

  • hungry or tired 
  • have wind or colic 
  • need a loving cuddle 
  • uncomfortable or in pain 
  • too hot or cold 
  • have a wet or dirty nappy

Watch your baby’s cues 

Listen to your baby and watch them to see if you can understand their cues (e.g. body movements, eye contact) and work out what they are trying to tell you.  

If you can, try to notice your baby’s cues before they start crying. For example, if your baby is hungry they may open their mouth and turn their head like they are looking for food. While a tired baby may seem to have tense movements, stare into space, rub their eyes and yawn before they start to cry because they are tired.  

Soothing your baby

Comforting your baby when they're crying helps them feel loved, safe and able to depend on others. You won’t spoil your baby by giving them lots of attention.  

Sometimes you can figure out why your pēpē is crying, but other times you won't know the reason why and won’t be able to soothe them – this is completely normal. 

It can help to check if your baby is hungry or thirsty or needs a nappy change. If your baby continues to cry, you can try: 

  • feeding again – your baby may still be hungry 
  • talking in a soft calm voice 
  • singing  
  • holding your baby gently and rocking them. Rock them close to your chest so your baby can feel your heart beating 
  • cuddling  
  • using soothing touch (e.g. rubbing their back or massage) 
  • giving baby a relaxing warm bath. Always hold them in the bath to keep them safe 
  • taking your baby for a walk  
  • wrapping and hold baby safely in a light blanket so they feel secure 
  • settling baby in a safe, dark and quiet place 

Caring for yourself

If you can’t comfort your crying baby you may get worried, stressed or angry – this is normal. It’s important to take a break to calm yourself if you're feeling this way.  

You're still learning and getting to know your baby, even if it's not your first babyAll babies are differentit can take time to learn the ways your baby communicates with you and what settles them. 

If your baby is in your arms and crying, remember to: 

  • take deep breaths 
  • relax your shoulders 
  • practice self-talk and tell yourself, “I am trying my best to help my babyit’s not my fault my baby is crying 
  • practice mindfulness 

If baby’s crying gets too much for you, put them down in a safe place or hand them to a trusted whānau member and step away for a few minutes. Try things such as: 

  • mindful breathing 
  • have a cup of tea 
  • talk to whānau, friends or someone who may have similar experiences with their own children 
  • call PlunketLine 

Remember to never shake your baby as it can lead to permanent brain damage or death (known as shaken baby syndrome).

Should I take my child to the doctor?

If nothing seems to comfort your baby and their crying sounds different than usual, or they are not feeding well, you may want to visit a doctor. Listen to the length and severity of their cryA louder, more urgent or high-pitched cry could be a sign of a more serious illness 

If your baby seems unwellis crying a lot or a different cry than normal, call PlunketLine, a trusted whānau member, or your doctor for help. 

The Period of PURPLE Crying

Purple Crying

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The Period of PURPLE Crying program aims to prevent the shaking and abuse of infants.

Need free support or advice?

Call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922