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First Year

Last Reviewed September 11, 2014

Sleep and Crying

Why babies cry

Crying is the only way that your baby can let you know how he feels.

Here are some reasons your baby might cry:

Never shake your baby!
Shaking can damage your baby's brain and may cause death.

No child of any age should EVER be shaken.

It can be difficult to figure out why your baby is crying and it is normal to feel upset when you do not know why. If you feel like you might lose control, place your baby in a safe place and leave him for a few minutes.

Never shake your baby! Shaking can hurt your baby's brain and may cause death (Shaken Baby Syndrome). No child at any age should be shaken.

Normal Crying
Babies have a regular fussy period which can sometimes happen in the late afternoon or evening. It can start at about age two to three weeks, may increase until about six weeks and goes away by three to four months.

When your baby cries, pick him up and comfort him. Carrying your baby skin-to-skin or in a sling can help. Doing so teaches him that you are there to meet his needs. Studies show that carrying your baby may reduce crying. It will not spoil him.

Is Your Baby Hungry?
Crying is usually a late sign that your baby is hungry.
Watch for early signs of hunger:

  • Sucking and licking his mouth
  • Touching his mouth with his fingers
  • Making small sounds

Babies go through growth spurts around three weeks, six weeks, three months of age and other times as they get older. Babies often feed more at these times.

Remember…Babies Need to Suck
Sucking is comforting to babies and helps them to relax. Put your baby to the breast to soothe and comfort. Avoid using a pacifier in your baby's first few weeks of life to make sure he will want to breastfeed.

Your Baby May… You Can…
Need food or need to be comforted
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Try rocking or walking
  • Burp your baby
  • Check and/or change your baby’s diaper
Need to be held
  • Hold your baby – try skin-to-skin against your chest
  • Carry your baby in a sling
  • Massage your baby
Need a calm and quiet place
  • Turn down noise
  • Turn down lights
Need comforting sounds
  • Sing to your baby
  • Play music
  • Try some “white noise” (dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, fan)
Need movement or change of pace
  • Take your baby out for a walk in a stroller
  • Rock your baby
  • Go for a car ride
  • Give your baby a bath
  • Encourage your partner to have some baby time
Need to be warm – not too hot or too cold
  • Dress your baby as warmly as you are, and add 1 more layer
  • Your baby’s chest, tummy and back should feel warm (not sweaty or cool)
Be sick See or call your doctor for advice if you are concerned

Babies sometimes cry for no reason.

Having a baby who won't stop crying doesn't make you a bad parent.

Help for Parents
Listening to a baby cry for long periods of time can be very frustrating. Ask a family member or a friend that you trust to look after your baby and give yourself a break.

If you feel depressed about your baby's crying, talk with your doctor or a Public Health Nurse.

Are you looking for someone to talk to about your baby's crying or being a parent in general? Free telephone support is available in many different languages.

For more information on who to talk to, you can contact
Region of Peel - Public Health 905-799-7700
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Revised: Thursday October 02 2014


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