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10 reasons why babies cry

Waah, waah, waah! I hold my ears, knowing that I need to find the cause for the crying. Why won’t my wee one settle? My checklist.

Here we go again. My baby girl is crying non-stop. So I mentally go through my checklist and start by changing her diaper. Although she stops crying, she’s still fussing. I proceed to step two. In other words, I stick a pacifier in her mouth. She starts sucking away like crazy. That’s it – she must be hungry!

Let’s try step three then. I breastfed her in the beginning but have now moved on to formula and baby food. Unfortunately, they take a little longer. My baby’s whining gets louder and continues well after she’s had her food. Crying ensues. Step four: Change baby’s position. I lift her out of the high chair and lay her down on the floor. Fail. Her cries get louder. Oh dear. I lift her up and hold her in my arms. Finally, she calms down a little (step five) but continues to fuss. She rubs her eyes with her tiny fists. Aha! She’s tired! Pacifier in mouth, I put her down in her bed and she drops off almost immediately. So was it reason number six or a combination of several?

In my opinion, there are ten reasons why babies cry. When it comes to bouts of crying, I mentally go through my checklist, hoping to soothe my baby as quickly as possible. Not least to give my ears some rest.

«10 reasons» checklist

1. Dirty diapers

Change your child’s diapers more frequently. While some babies might enjoy the warmth a full diaper, the majority will not appreciate having a wet bottom. Especially if your little one has very sensitive skin, you should change his or her diaper regularly. If not, you risk having a baby with a rash and a sore bottom.

2. Restlessness

There are many different ways to calm a baby. The most popular probably include offering a pacifier, breastfeeding or cradling. Singing lullabies, giving him or her a security blanket or a warm bath, carrying your child in a baby sling, swaddling or a taking a walk in the fresh air together can also work wonders. Toys may also help distract little ones.

3. Hunger and thirst

Whether you’re giving breast milk, formula or baby food. Hunger is the main cause for a crying baby alongside a full diaper.

4. Wrong position

Restlessness is often caused because the baby can’t get comfortable in its current position. Try changing your baby’s whereabouts. From the highchair to the floor, to the rocker, to the hammock, into the sling or to bed. A change of scenery gives your baby a new perspective and new things to discover. Another reason babies fuss is if they want to move but can’t. Help fight your little one’s frustration by offering your help or showing him or her new solutions.

5. Body contact

Personally, I’m not a big fan of constant baby carrying. However, your child will consciously claim the contact it needs by crying. Regularly hold your child in your arms, giving him or her the body contact and warmth she or he needs and cuddle or massage your baby as often as possible. A great time to do this is when you're changing that dirty diaper or during bathtime.

6. Tiredness

Look out for signs of tiredness. They include rubbing eyes, pulling ears, staring, fussing and reduced activity. As soon as you pick up on one of these signals, you should put your baby to bed.

7. Overstimulation

Babies are not used to our big world yet. They tend to be bombarded with stimuli such as light, colours, voices, sounds, smells or people. This can lead to overstimulation. Some kids aren’t too bothered and fall asleep when things get too much. Others cry. If overstimulation sets in, you can try putting your baby to bed, swaddling, holding him or her close to your body or leaving the room together. A calm environment and body contact will make your baby feel safe and help him or her digest the situation.

8. Temperature

Personally, I find this the trickiest reason for discomfort. How much clothing is appropriate? Is my baby too cold or too warm? Cold hands or feet do not mean your baby isn’t warm enough. A handy tip: Feel the nape of the neck. If it feels warm and a bit clammy, your baby is probably too warm. If it fels cold, then your little one could be cold. However, this method is not very reliable if your hands are warm or cold. Try using your lips instead and press them against your child’s forehead. If it feels hot, your baby may have a fever.

9. Pain

Teething, illness, fever, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea, a sore bottom. Pain can be caused by many different things. Try finding the reason for pain so you can treat it accordingly. If you can’t figure it out or are in doubt, contact your paediatrician.

10. Your own restlessness

The cause for a crying baby is not always the baby. Your baby will also pick up on your restlessness, stress or unfamiliar situations. Relax, briefly go to another room, meet up with someone, get help from friends or family. More often than not, the situation will improve all by itself. What’s more: Avoid changing your child’s positions when you're holding him or her. This only creates more stress than good.

After a while, you’ll be able to decypher the different types of fussing a crying. You’ll become more relaxed and faster at resolving the issue. And keep in mind that there’s an end in sight. As soon as children can talk, things become a lot easier. I hope my «10 reasons» checklist will help you.

Did I miss an important reason? Let us know in the comments field below and share your knowledge with other parents. Thanks for following me if you enjoyed this article! Simply click on the black button next to my author profile.

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Myrtha Erni, Zurich

  • Editor
I’m the cook, cleaner, police officer, nurse, entertainer, motivator, author, storyteller, coach, organiser, chauffeur, lawyer and judge. To put it simply, I’m a mum to a daughter and not just a (Content) Manager at the office but also at home.

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