Babies cry for all sorts of different reasons because it is a way for them to communicate different things to us. When our baby’s are young it can feel like they spend a lot of time crying, particularly when we are tired and a new parent ourselves but we can rest assured that most forms of crying are because they need their immediate needs to be met – such as feeding, sleeping or they are uncomfortable however doctors can diagnose certain conditions from the pitch and duration of a baby’s cry so always get in touch with a health professional if you are worried. Take a look at our handy factsheet with ideas for ways to soothe your baby.
If you are concerned about your baby’s crying then talk to our experts in the Channel Mum Baby Support Group here.
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If you don’t know why your baby is crying and what a particular cry means rest assured you are not alone and this is normal. It can be useful though to learn your baby’s cues and learning to respond to these.
What we do know is that all babies cry but excessive crying is stressful and worries parents when babies are un-soothable. In the past babies who cried excessively in the first 3 months were often labelled as having colic, it was assumed they had abdominal pain or disturbance, but research has shown this to be untrue. Only 5% of babies have an organic cause for the excessive crying. In many parts of the world this period of unsoothable excessive crying is accepted as normal and they have not tried to medicalise it.
Experts do now know that infants who cry a lot are normal and healthy, many normal babies reach a crying peak at 1-2 months old with this un-soothable crying starting to resolve by the time they get to 3 months of age. Experts refer to this as the “Period of Purple Crying” and Dr Roland Barr a world expert on infant crying set up the “period of purple crying” website to support American parents with this normal phenomenon and share coping strategies. As parents it can be useful to know what the acronym PURPLE stands for to help us understand the stage our baby is at:
Peak – your baby may cry more each week, reaching a peak at 2 months then less at 3-5 months.
Unexpected – crying comes and goes and there is no explantation for it.
Resists soothing not matter what you try.
Pain like face – A crying baby may look like they are in pain even when they are not which seems counter intuitive.
Long lasting – the crying can last for 5 hours a day or more.
Evening – the baby may cry more in the late afternoon or evening.
It is tough to be unable to calm or soothe your baby and many mums and dads feel desperate and a failure. All parents can relate to these feelings but if you have no support or let up from it 24/7 you can feel alone and unable to cope. Our handy factsheet has ideas for ways to soothe your baby’s cry and know that help is always available here at Channel Mum, through your health visiting or GP service. Child-line and the Samaritans are open 24 hours and you can contact them.
CRY-SIS a UK online support service for crying baby’s offer a 7 days a week 9am-10pm helpline: – 08451 228 669 – Lines open 7 days a week 9am-10pm
If it is all getting too much take a break. Maggie suggests you put your baby down in a safe place and go and calm yourself, make a drink, put on music, the radio or TV. Take deep breaths and count to 10, focus on being calm. Phone for help if you need it. When you are feeling calmer go back and try again. Take breaks as often as you need to to help you stay calm. Find out more from the Channel Mum sleep expert Maggie in this video.
The text in this crying guide has been checked and approved by our in-house Health Visitor, Maggie Fisher in September 2018. Note this endorsement only applies to Channel Mum videos and written text on the page, videos by other vloggers are not covered by this endorsement.