Babies can cry for up to three hours a day! It is their only way of communication and most moms soon learn which cry means ‘I’m hungry!’ and which one means ‘I need a diaper change!’. But in the early months, some babies are prone to excessive crying, which doesn’t seem to stop with the usual methods.
What is ‘Excessive’ Crying in Babies?
Here are the most common reasons causing babies to cry:
- Soiled or wet diapers
- Being too hot or too cold
- Clothes irritating their skin
- Insect bite
- A sudden or startling movement
- Wanting to be held
- Illness of any kind
However, when you’ve eliminated all of the above and your baby still continues crying, it can be considered as excessive crying. Excessive crying in babies often goes on for more than three hours a day, and can be quite distressing to parents.
Possible Causes of Excessive Crying in Babies
There are a number of reasons that could cause excessive crying in babies. The most common ones are:
This is probably the most prevalent cause of excessive crying in young babies. While it is still largely unexplained, colic usually occurs in babies under five months and during late afternoon or early evening hours.
Your baby’s skin or hair could be stuck in his shirt’s zipper, causing him pain. Some clothes have tie-ups near the shoulders; his hair could get caught in it as well.
An accidental tourniquet could form on his finger or toe, either by a long hair strand or piece of thread. It could be tightly wound, causing him a lot of pain.
While constipation doesn’t really warrant excessive crying on its own, the associated discomfort accompanied by gas could. However, this is also characterized by other symptoms like straining during a bowel movement.
Some babies are born with intolerance to foods like milk (lactose intolerance) or wheat (Celiac disease). If your baby has started solids early, this might cause stomach pain resulting in excessive crying.
Tips to Deal with Excessive Crying
Many experts recommend ‘cue based care’, which is basically letting your infant guide you to what he needs. In case you’re confused, you can try the following steps to help your crying infant.
- Check for common causes like hunger, excess heat or cold, and soiled diapers.
- If he’s had a feed recently, hold your baby upright against your shoulder and try to burp him. It might release the gas that’s bothering him.
- Check his body and clothes from head to toe, including fingers and toes to check for anything that might be irritating him or causing pain.
- Hold your baby close and cuddle him, preferably in a relaxed and quiet environment.
- Rock your body, swaying your baby gently; a rocking motion is often comforting to babies.
- Give him a dummy or pacifier to suck on; but be sure to sterilize it first.
When to see the Doctor
While most cases of excessive crying in infants resolve on their own or by following the measures mentioned above, sometimes it might be an indication of something more serious. Take your baby to the doctor right away if he shows any of the following symptoms.
- Your baby seems to have difficulty in breathing and gasps or turns blue.
- He has a high fever, above 38°C.
- He is vomiting a lot, and his vomit is of a different color.
- He has severe loose motions that could lead to dehydration, which can prove fatal for infants.
- His body suddenly seems weak and ‘droopy’.
- He has a rash anywhere on his body.
- He hasn’t eaten anything for hours.
Even if your baby doesn’t display any of the above symptoms, and still if he cries excessively every day, then it’s a good idea to keep a record to show your doctor. Note down the time of day, his feeding timings and other environmental changes, if any. If you see a pattern, you can do something to change it.