Skip to navigation menu Skip to content
Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Newborn Crying

Newborn Crying

What are the crying patterns of a newborn?

The first cries of a newborn baby are often music to parents’ ears. But over the next weeks and months, this sound can become grating and painful. This is especially true when all attempts fail to stop the crying.

Surprisingly, crying may not produce tears until after 1 or 2 months. Crying is the way babies communicate. Babies cry because of hunger, discomfort, frustration, tiredness, and even loneliness. Sometimes, cries can easily be answered with cuddling, food, or a diaper change. Other times, it can be a mystery and crying stops as quickly as it starts.

You will soon learn differences in your baby’s cries, from a cry of "I'm hungry" to "I've been overstimulated." It’s important to respond to your baby's cries. Contrary to some beliefs, young babies can’t be spoiled by being picked up when crying. Being held is reassuring and comforting. Babies don’t seem to know that they are separate individuals from their mothers until about 6 months of age.

Woman with baby in front carrier walking outdoors.

Some ways to help calm a crying baby include the following:

  • Take care of physical problems first (hunger, diaper change, burping, cooling, or warming the baby).

  • Walk with your baby in a sling or in a stroller.

  • Rock your baby in a rhythmic, gentle motion.

  • Try a baby swing or rocking cradle.

  • Gently pat or stroke your baby’s back or chest.

  • Swaddle your baby with a light blanket. Make sure this is no higher than the baby’s armpit level. Be sure your baby has at least one hand free to suck on and can flex arms and legs. Make sure your baby doesn’t get too hot when swaddled. Don’t swaddle older babies, who can turn over onto their stomachs.

  • Go for a ride in the car.

  • Turn on some white noise (such as a washing machine or vacuum cleaner).

  • Make shushing sounds for the baby.

  • Offer a pacifier to a bottle-feeding baby.

  • Nurse a breastfeeding baby (it isn't possible to overfeed at the breast)

Note: No matter how frustrated you may become, never shake, hit, or throw your baby . This can cause severe injury to your baby's fragile brain that can cause lifelong disabilities. If you get angry or frustrated, let someone else take over for a while. If you are alone, put your baby down in a safe place, such as the crib, and go to another room for a few moments. This will give you time to calm yourself. Then you can return to your baby and try a different way to comfort your baby.

Reviewed Date: 10-01-2023

Newborn Crying
Find a pediatrician
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of a Newborn Baby’s Skull
Assessments for Newborn Babies
Baby's Care After Birth
Breast Milk Collection and Storage
Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
Breastfeeding at Work
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
Breastfeeding: Getting Started
Breathing Problems
Care of the Baby in the Delivery Room
Caring for Babies in the NICU
Caring for Newborn Multiples
Common Conditions and Complications
Common Procedures
Congenital Heart Disease Index
Difficulty with Latching On or Sucking
Digestive Disorders
Fever in a Newborn Baby
Hearing Loss in Babies
Hearing Screening Tests for Newborns
Heart Disorders
High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders
Infant Feeding Guide
Infant of a Mother with Diabetes
Infant Play
Infant Sleep
Infection in Babies
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Keeping Your Baby Warm
Male Conditions
Megaureter in Children
Micropenis in Children
Neurological Disorders in the Newborn
Newborn Appearance
Newborn Babies: Getting Ready at Home
Newborn Behaviors and Activities
Newborn Complications
Newborn Crying
Newborn Health Assessment
Newborn Measurements
Newborn Reflexes
Newborn Screening Tests
Newborn Senses
Newborn Sleep Patterns
Newborn Warning Signs
Physical Exam of the Newborn
Preparing for Your New Baby
Preparing the Family
Skin Color Changes
Substance Exposure
Taking Your Baby Home from the NICU
The Growing Child: Newborn
The Respiratory System in Babies
Thrush (Oral Candida Infection) in Children
Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
Umbilical Cord Care
Vision and Hearing
When to Call Your Child's Healthcare Provider

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.