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All babies cry, but some cry more than others. They cry when they're hungry, bored, uncomfortable, or frightened. They also cry when they need a diaper changed, hear a loud noise, or meet a new person. Sometimes babies cry for no apparent reason. Crying is one of the few ways your baby can communicate with you.
His crying is no reflection on your parenting. But it can be very frustrating when your baby cries and, despite your best efforts, doesn't stop. You can try to soothe a crying baby by feeding him, changing his diaper, swaddling him, dimming the lights, rocking, singing, and walking.
Some studies show that premature babies are more likely than full-term babies to be fussy. They may be harder to soothe, cry often, and have irregular patterns of eating and sleeping. But each child is different, so this may or may not apply to your baby.
If your baby is fussy, it may be comforting to know that you're not alone. Your baby will soon outgrow this difficult phase.
Some babies who've been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) have trouble adjusting to the quiet of home. Your baby may sleep better with some background music or a low level of noise.
As you get to know your baby, you'll learn how much crying is normal for him and what you can do to soothe him. If your baby cries longer than usual, and nothing you do soothes him, call your baby's healthcare provider to see if there's a medical reason.
First steps to stop the crying
If your baby is crying, try the following:
- Check to make sure he isn't hungry.
- Check to make sure he has a clean diaper. If not, change it.
- Look for signs of illness or pain. Examples: Fever over 100.4 degrees (this is a reason to call your child's doctor), swollen gums, or an ear infection.
- Rock your baby, or walk with him. But if you begin to feel stressed, put him down in a safe place (like on his back in his crib) then take a short break and check on him in 10 minutes.
- Sing or talk to your baby.
- Offer him a pacifier or a toy.
- Take him for a ride in a stroller.
- Swaddle your baby snugly in a blanket.
- Turn on the stereo or TV. Be sure the sound is low and soothing.
- Run the vacuum cleaner, turn on the clothes dryer or dishwasher, or use a fan. Some babies like this type of white noise.
- Hold your baby close to your body. Breathe calmly and slowly.
- Call a friend or relative. Ask them to care for your baby while you take a breather.
Choosing a babysitter for a fussy baby
If you have a fussy baby or a baby who cries a lot, choose your babysitters carefully. Find people who have lots of experience with small babies and have spent time with crying or fussy children.
If you're not sure that the person has the patience and maturity to care for a crying baby, don't leave your child alone with her. And make sure to tell anyone who cares for your baby to never, ever shake a baby.