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Baby Crying: 11 Reasons Babies Cry & What To Do

Updated on June 13, 2024
32c58a2446d816ea72f2af6347d14853 - Mustela USA - 1

All babies have a few things in common. They’re all adorable. Every baby needs to eat and sleep frequently. And all babies cry. It’s one of the most natural things your baby can do! Babies have very few ways to express themselves, so crying is just a way to let parents know that something isn’t quite right.

Of course, parents still ask themselves: why is my baby crying? There are a number of things that can make your little one cry. In this post, the baby experts at Mustela explain the 11 most common reasons babies cry and tell you what you can do to soothe your little bundle of joy.

Why Is Your Baby Crying?

baby crying and mother attempting to console him

We all know that babies can’t talk. Imagine how frustrating it would be if you couldn’t communicate your feelings and needs to the people around you!

Well, that’s exactly the situation your baby is in. When your little one is discontented in some way, they have only one option to express that emotion: crying.

With your baby crying, it can be hard to relax. Just remember that it’s one of the most normal things a baby can do! Try to discover what your loved one is trying to communicate. To help, we’ve created a list of 11 common reasons babies cry.

1) Hunger

Babies need to eat constantly—on average, every two hours! That might seem like a lot, but remember that, at least for the first few months of life, breastmilk and/or baby formula is the only sustenance they receive.

Plus, infants have tiny little stomachs that don’t hold much liquid. And they need plenty of nutrients to help their rapidly-developing bodies grow. If you’ve noticed your baby crying, there’s a good chance that hunger is the cause.

2) Discomfort

We all get uncomfortable sometimes, and babies are no different. When your baby starts crying, consider where they are and how their body is positioned.

If your little one is lying down, they may just want to be picked up. If they’re in a highchair or walker, they may want to get out and lie down. A simple physical adjustment might be all your baby is asking for.

3) Heat Or Cold

Your little bundle of joy spent 9 long months in your womb, where the temperature was an even 98.6° F around the clock. This means that babies can easily become hot or cold once they’ve entered life outside your belly.

Something as simple as an extra layer of clothing may cause your baby to feel hot. On the other hand, your infant may feel cold when you’re changing their diaper or giving them a bath. Crying can often be your baby’s response to feeling too hot or too cold.

4) Sleepiness

It’s completely normal for babies (and adults) to become somewhat cranky when they’re tired. Babies typically sleep 14 to 16 hours per day in their first year of life. If your little one is crying, there’s a good chance that they just need a nap.

Expert tip: Dress your baby in Mustela's Stelatopia Skin Soothing Pajamas at nap time and before bed. Made with natural ingredients, these pajamas deliver skin-soothing moisture so your little one can rest well.

baby napping with teddy bear

5) Gas

Another common reason for baby crying is gas trapped in your little one’s belly. When your baby feeds, they swallow air that then gets trapped in their stomach.

Coupled with the fact that your baby’s digestive tract is brand-new and unable to deal with excess gas, this means that your baby’s tummy might be a bit bloated. This can cause your baby discomfort and may make them cry.

6) Teething

Teething isn’t exactly a pleasant process. Teeth must push their way through your baby’s gums and into their mouth. The teething process normally begins sometime around the six-month mark—although it can start as early as three months—and continues until the age of two or three. Pain from teething is a major reason for a baby to cry.

7) A Dirty Diaper

If you’re a parent, we definitely don’t need to remind you how often babies need to have their diapers changed. It probably seems like every thirty minutes!

A dirty diaper can certainly make your baby cry. Whenever your little one is wailing away, give their diaper a quick check to make sure it’s dry.

When your baby does need a new diaper, make sure that you’re cleaning your baby’s bottom thoroughly. Use gentle, cleansing baby wipes and a hypoallergenic diaper rash cream to keep your baby’s bottom moisturized. This will reduce any discomfort they may have in their diaper area.

8) Illness

In some cases, an illness may be the reason for your baby’s crying. It could be the common cold or a little baby cough. It might also be a rash of some kind, such as dry skin or eczema.

Any of these conditions will certainly make your baby cry more than normal. Monitor your little one closely and keep an eye out for any signs of illness.

parent using thermometer to check baby's temperature

9) An Overwhelming Situation

Literally everything is brand new to an infant. Sometimes, new experiences can be frightening or overwhelming. For instance, your baby might feel scared the first time they see a dog. To us, it’s not a cause for concern, but to your baby, it could be terrifying.

Similarly, your little one might cry when they feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. If their environment is too loud, too crowded, or too chaotic, they may feel stressed and begin to cry.

10) The Need To Be Held

There’s a huge body of research that shows how important a parent’s touch is for infants. From brain development to the formation of social behavior that comes into effect years down the road, the impact of frequently being held by a parent is enormous. A common reason for a baby crying is simply wanting to be held by mom or dad.

11) A Grumpy Mood

Every now and then, your baby will cry for no good reason. It might seem like nothing is making your little one happy. Sometimes, babies are in a sour mood and they just want to bawl their eyes out for a while. It’s completely normal and nothing to worry about!

However, if your newborn often cries for extended periods of time, they may have infantile colic. Colic is a condition in which babies, typically under 5 months old, cry for two to three hours at a time at least three times per week, for three consecutive weeks or longer.

Doctors are unsure why some babies develop colic, but it doesn’t indicate any long-term problems or health issues. Even so, talk to your child’s pediatrician if you think they might have colic.

How To Soothe Your Crying Baby

Now that we’ve covered the most common reasons why your little bundle of joy cries, we can reveal the most effective ways to soothe them. Here are some things you can do to cheer your little one up.

Feed Your Baby

mother breastfeeding baby

As we mentioned earlier, babies need to eat roughly every two hours in their first few months of life. When your baby is shedding tears, they might just want to be fed! Feeding your little one is the first thing you should try when they seem unhappy.

Burp Your Baby

If you’ve recently fed your baby and they’re still crying, you may need to burp them for a few minutes before they’ll calm down. This will give your little one the chance to get rid of any excess gas and spit up any milk that isn’t settling so well inside their tummy.

Let Your Baby Take A Nap

After feeding and burping, a nap is the next step in the baby-soothing process. A tired baby is an unhappy baby! Lay your loved one down in their crib and let them get some rest. Try signing a lullaby to help your little one drift off to sleep.

Let Your Baby Squirm Around

When your baby is crying, they may just want to move their little body around. You can give your baby some tummy time or put them on your lap and let them touch a favorite toy or stuffed animal. This will help them get rid of some energy, and it might just put them in a better mood.

Change Your Baby’s Outfit

If you suspect your baby is too hot or too cold, try changing them into a different outfit. If it’s hot outside, don’t be afraid to let your baby hang out naked for a little while! A light pair of clothing works, too. On the other hand, don’t hesitate to add an extra layer to your loved one’s clothes when it’s cold.

Give Your Baby Plenty Of TLC

mother and baby bonding

Finally, and most importantly, always give your little bundle of joy plenty of hugs and kisses! It’s not just good for their development; it’s also one of the best ways to calm your baby down when they’re crying.

If you have your hands full, consider carrying your baby in a sling. The body-to-body contact will soothe your loved one and put their mind at ease. This, along with the rest of the tips we’ve offered here, will help keep your baby calm and content.

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