- Your newborn is likely crying because they want one of their basic needs met.
- Babies typically cry two to three hours a day, with this behavior peaking around six to eight weeks.
- If your newborn is crying more than three hours each day, they may be sick or have colic.
Babies cry a lot. Even when you expect that to be the case, it can still feel alarming and frustrating when your baby cries, especially when you aren't sure why.
Here are a few common reasons your newborn may cry, how to know if their crying is normal, and what you can do to soothe your baby.
Figure out why your newborn is crying
Usually, they want one of their basic needs met:
- They are hungry and need to be fed.
- They need a diaper change.
- They are tired and need sleep.
- They are lonely and want to be held.
- They have gas and burping may help.
Other reasons could be that they have acid reflux or food allergies or sensitivities. And as you get to know your baby better, you'll start to notice that they'll have different cries for different needs. For example, when they're hungry their cry might sound more low-pitched compared to if they're tired.
Know when crying is normal, and when it isn't
Newborns will typically cry for as much as two to three hours of the day. According to Tranter, you can expect your baby's crying to peak between their sixth and eighth week of life, and from there it should taper off.
Older babies may have different reasons for crying. For example, at around 6 months old, they could be experiencing teething or struggling to adapt to a change in routine.
"As babies mature, they may start crying for developmental reasons such as stranger anxiety or frustration with not being able to communicate their needs," Tranter says.
Most babies will cry until they get their needs met. However, if their crying is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever, continued cold symptoms, bloody diarrhea, or vomiting, they need to be seen by a doctor for treatment.
Some babies cry a lot because they have colic, when a baby cries for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, and more than three weeks straight. If you think your baby has colic, the advice is the same as before — take them to a pediatrician for an examination.
Try to stay calm
While it is true that babies are typically expressing a need when they cry, sometimes it is hard to figure out how to soothe your newborn. But it's important to try to remain calm as a parent.
"The human body is made to feel uncomfortable and stressed when a baby cries," says Tranter. "A crying baby is one of the most challenging situations to adapt to in parenting."
It's common to feel frustration, but you should never do anything unsafe. If you find yourself growing more irritable and are worried about your ability to remain calm, it's best to put your baby down in their crib and walk away to give yourself a break, says Tranter.
It's normal for newborns to cry for two to three hours per day, with this behavior peaking at six to eight weeks. Usually, newborns cry when they want a basic need, such as food, sleep, or a diaper change. Other reasons for crying include gas, food allergies, or acid reflux.
If your baby is crying and also experiencing other symptoms like fever or vomiting, you should contact a doctor for treatment. Colic can also cause excessive crying. If you think your baby has colic, take them for an examination with a pediatrician.
Inconsolable bouts of crying can be a stressful situation for parents. Doctors say it's important for parents to try to stay calm, even if that means putting the baby in their crib while you take a moment to breathe.