Last Updated: August 8, 2020
It is a joyous experience when newborn babies cry for the first time at birth. The momentary cry is a promise of a long life ahead of them. It is, however, another story when they shriek in the days and weeks that follow. The new mother, in particular, is puzzled and frustrated as to why her 1 to 3 month-old baby is in a crying fit.!
Even worse her baby may squeal so loud in all the wrong places, say a public facility, in the company of strangers. Besides the irritation the crying creates, everyone else somehow seems to have an answer to the crying nightmare, except the mother of course! They will tell her stuff like ‘undress the baby‘, ‘sing for the baby‘, and ‘make the baby burp’!
The truth is, babies, don’t necessarily want to cry. They would prefer to talk and save themselves the pain of having to scream. But it is all they know. They are incapable of communicating better, not until they are 12 months or older.
Interestingly, babies actually use a set of gestures, sounds, and facial expressions known as baby language, long before they start crying. It is the inability on the part of parents and caregivers to respond to these reflexes that leave the little fellows with limited choices.
If your baby is giving you sleepless nights by crying a lot, read on to find out the causes and solutions:
1. Babies Cry When Really Hungry
Hunger is probably the first thing that comes to mind when your little baby begins crying. The crying usually starts slow but will be upped when there is no response, or the response is too slow coming. Before your baby starts crying, she will try lip-smacking or placing fingers in the mouth, as a reflex signal, to let you know it is time to feed.
When she runs out of gestures and patience, the crying reflex will kick in soon after. If you respond fast enough, your baby will probably not cry, but again, babies are constantly demanding for milk, and it’s hard for moms to keep up to speed with their demands.
The frequent need for milk may puzzle first-time parents because it happens every so often, even in the night. The baby will want milk every hour in the first 1 month but will cut this down to two or three hours, at 2 to 3 months.
The reason for this is that young babies have small tummies capable of accommodating little milk at one go. Milk is also digested pretty fast and these explain the frequent nursing. With additional months, the tummy becomes much bigger to accommodate more milk at a time. This increases the intake of milk and reduces the frequency of feeding.
2. Babies Get a Lot of Pain Due to Colic
Colic is when a baby cries intensely for longer than is normal, and when another underlying medical complication is not the reason. Your baby may arch the back during a colic fit.
All babies will always cry because of colic pains. The good news is that colic and crying will go away soon enough.
Though all newborns cry and show some fussiness, when an infant who is otherwise healthy cries for more than 3 hours per day, more than 3 days per week for at least 3 weeks, it is a condition known as colic. This can be upsetting, but the good news is that it’s short-lived — most babies outgrow it at around 3 or 4 months of age.
There is no defined medical explanation about what causes colic, but the following could be happening to the baby, according to webMD:
- A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
- Hormones that cause belly pain or crankiness
- A sensitivity to light, noise, etc., or too much stimulation
- A developing nervous system
- An early form of childhood migraine
- Fear, frustration, or excitement
Holding your baby upright and walking outside will help ease the pain.
3. Babies Will Cry Due to Discomfort
Just like adults, babies too need to feel comfortable and at peace with themselves. If anything happens to disrupt this peace, they will let you know through crying. Just like you wouldn’t want to walk around with a wet bottom, why would you expect them to sit still in a wet diaper for longer than is necessary?
Crying can be triggered due to extremes in temperature, sound, light, and darkness, and discomfort resulting from fatigue, clothing, wet-bottoms, teething, and cold feet.
Though uncommon, babies will cry simply because they want to burp! Yes. This happens after hasty breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Babies become uncomfortable with the air in the stomach and will want to get this out through burping.
Elsewhere, all they need is a change of sleeping position, getting out of the house and into the natural world, a little smile here and there, and of course, cuddling. Yes, cuddling. Simply carry your baby and walk around, even deep in the night and you will be amazed how fast the baby relaxes and sleeps off. I bet we all want them sleeping most of the time.
4. Babies Cry Because of Natural Reflexes
Sometimes babies will cry out of nothing at all, but out of reflex. Much as we expect them to respond to situations in a logical manner, like us, the opposite seems to happen most of the time.
Sudden reflexes, also known as Moro reflex can make a little baby cry, for a few weeks after birth. Moro reflexes happen when a baby experiences sudden movement or extreme light, and besides crying, will shoot out its hands and legs.
When something triggers the Moro reflex, a baby will extend their arms — moving them outward at the shoulder and then straightening them — and throw their head back. They will often also extend their legs as well as their arms, but leg movements differ among babies. The baby will then curl their arms and legs toward their body. A baby may or may not cry during the reflex.
Another example is sleep. Instead of calmly falling back to bed when sleep comes knocking, babies will go into a crying frenzy and throwing all kinds of tantrums. They will want to be cuddled and have someone sing a lullaby for them to sleep!
It does not stop there. Babies will cry,
- when they want to hear your voice and see your face
- when they wake up from a bad dream
- if you raise the tone of your voice
- because of mood swings
- due to under and over-stimulation
5. Medical Complications Can Lead to Crying
Besides the complications associated with colic, babies will also cry due to other medical conditions. These will manifest in simple pain, such as headache, a rash in the diaper, sore mouth and throat, and complex health issues such as fever and acid reflux.
Gastroesophageal Reflux can cause a lot of pain in babies, just like heartburn haunts adults due to excess and spicy meal, for example.
GER isn’t just a problem for adults — kids can have it, too, even babies. In infants, it can cause vomiting and fussiness after feeding. And in older kids and teens, GER can lead to heartburn, and stomach and chest discomfort.
Sometimes, the problem could stem from allergic reactions. A mother could easily pass on the offending food type through breast milk, which could upset the tummy, which yields to crying. Some babies are allergic to foodstuffs such as cow milk, formula milk, eggs, wheat, nuts, etc. You may want to single out the offending food and remove it from your diet.
For Parents and Caregivers
Babies cry for an average of two to three hours every day, and there is no need to panic when these are not exceeded. Of course you can make life easy by reponding quickly to their demands, and paying attention to getsures, facial expressions and other sounds to read their mind.
Better still, cudle them, walk them outside the house, talk to them, and play sooting music for them.
Beware though when crying goes beyond normal, make a point to seek professional advice and help. When you suspect colic and other symptoms listed above are not the cause of crying, contact your local pediatrician to have the baby checked.