Baby will start communicating with you as soon as they are born. They can already hear, taste, feel, and smell. When they’re born, they already know their parents’ voices. If your baby is crying, the way you respond will help calm and comfort them.
It is normal for babies to cry. Crying is how your baby lets you know what they want. Babies need a lot of love and physical contact from caring adults.
Babies fuss and cry for a lot of reasons. You may know the reason, but mostly you can only guess. Sometimes your baby cries no matter what you do. Many babies have a crying session or are awake in the evening. They may want to feed more often then, particularly if they are breastfed.
Comforting them when they cry helps them feel loved, safe, and able to rely on the people looking after them. You won’t spoil them by giving them lots of attention.
Babies fuss and cry for a lot of reasons. They may be:
hungry or tired
have wind or colic
need a loving cuddle
uncomfortable or in pain
too hot or cold
have wet or dirty nappies
To comfort your crying baby, listen and watch for signs of tiredness, hunger, wind, or being uncomfortable. Feed or change your baby, and put them to bed if they seem tired.
If your baby won’t settle, try some of these ideas:
Hold, gently rock and cuddle, and talk in a soft calm voice.
Walk your baby around in a front pack.
Take your baby out in the pram or the car.
Push the pram gently back and forth over a small bump. Stay with baby and always use the pram’s safety harness.
Always move your baby out of the car seat to a safe place to sleep. Lie your baby on their tummy across your knee and rub their back or pat their bottom gently. If they fall asleep, turn them on to their back to reduce any risk of SUDI (SIDS or cot death).
Massage your baby.
Give your baby a deep, relaxing bath. Always keep a hand on them to keep them safe.
Have a warm bath with your baby and play music, or sing to your baby in a soft voice.
If you feel the crying is getting too much for you, put your baby in a safe place such as their cot, or pass them to someone else for a while.
If you can’t comfort your crying baby, you might find yourself getting worried, stressed or angry. It’s important to take a break and calm yourself. Have a cup of tea, call a friend, relative or PlunketLine. Then go back in and check on the baby.
It may help to talk to family, friends or someone who works in health or community services.
If nothing seems to comfort your baby, or if the crying is different from usual, or if they are refusing to feed, your baby may be unwell. Talk to a doctor, your Plunket nurse or phone PlunketLine on 0800 933 922.
Colic is when a baby cries for several hours a day and there is no obvious cause for the crying. Your baby may draw their knees up and be hard to comfort. This may be followed by a peaceful period and then the crying starts again. It usually happens at the same time of day or night in the first months of life.
The cause of colic is unknown. Caring for a crying, colicky baby can be stressful. Discuss colic or wind medication and how you are feeling with your Plunket nurse or doctor.