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Why is my baby crying?

Babies usually cry because they’re trying to tell you something – for example “I’m hungry”, “I’m sleepy”, “I want a cuddle!”. On bad days, your baby’s cry might even be: “I’m just crying because I feel like crying!”.

It sounds simple, but when you’re getting to know your baby and everything is so new, it can be anything but. You’d do anything to soothe your little one – if only you knew what was wrong.

We’ve put together our top 10 tips for why your baby may be crying and some tricks you can use to help soothe them. A crying baby is stressful for any parent – so if you’re having a day when it’s driving you to tears, check out parents’ tips for getting through those first few weeks.

Helping your baby

It's normal for babies to get upset, sometimes very upset! And there will be times when nothing you do seems to help soothe them. As hard as this can be, try not to doubt yourself. This is part of parenting. All you can do is persevere and help your baby become used to you trying to calm them down and understand them.

This is an important part of your baby’s development and is called “rupture and repair”. Over time your baby will get used to the pattern of being upset, you soothing them, and them feeling better. This also helps their brain to grow so they can deal with stress more effectively as they get older.

What the parents say

You pick it up as you go along

"Those first few days, I found myself wondering why anyone had let me leave the hospital with this little baby – I had no idea what I was doing! I would panic when he cried, and was worried I’d forget everything I’d been told at the hospital.

"After a week or so, we started to get into a rhythm where I felt like I knew the signs he was hungry, or it was time to change his nappy. Every day it’s different but now we’re in the swing of things."

Kathy - Edinburgh

Sometimes you both just need a few minutes of time out

“One day, he kept crying and crying. I had done everything I could think of, and nothing helped. I was exhausted, and I just didn’t know what to do.

"I rang mum, she said just to take a wee time out. I felt so guilty, but I was at the end of my tether. I put him down in his cot where I knew he was safe, and told him I’d be back soon.

"I went to the kitchen to splash my face and took a couple of deep breaths. It was only a minute or so, but it made such a difference – when I came back, I felt so much more calm. It was much easier to settle him once I’d had a little break."

Julia – Dalkeith

What the professionals say

If you’re worried about your baby’s crying, ask your health visitor or public health nurse to check them over so you know everything is fine. If nothing is wrong, that’s likely just how your baby is at the moment.

You’re not doing anything wrong, it’s not your fault, and it happens to lots of people. Over time, they’ll become more settled.

Crying is stressful for any parent, and it’s that much harder when you’re exhausted. Talking to new parents and family and friends who’ve been there can really help. You can also find local support groups to meet other parents going through the same thing.

Last updated: 30 Sep, 2021