The sound of your baby’s cries is never meant to be a comfortable experience—her wails are designed to be unbearable, so you’ll be prompted to see to her needs.
But what happens if the crying happens more frequently than what seems normal?
Is it normal?
According to Dr Robert Arlt MD, babies typically spend around one hour of each day crying. At six weeks, this might increase due to significant brain changes, and then begins to taper off at about the three month mark.
Dr Robert says:
“You should be concerned if your child cries continuously for more than three hours in a row, more than three days a week, over a period of three weeks or more.”
So what’s behind the excessive tears?
First-off, studies show that up to 30% of babies cry more than what’s considered average—so you’re not alone. The peak time tends to be between two weeks and six months. The possible causes are varied, including:
- Rhinitis – internal inflammation of the nose
- Urinary tract infections
- A hernia
- An intestinal intussusception or gut malformation
- Other stomach problems
Another issue is that a crying baby may spark a loop of upset: a distressed newborn could make the parent anxious; this negative affect is sensed by the baby, who then becomes more unsettled in turn.
Many ‘soothing’ tactics in popular rotation are little more than placeboes, says Dr Robert. However, the comforting power of picking up your baby often is backed by scientific evidence, as is breastfeeding.
Key no-no’s in calming your baby include:
- An overload of sensory stimuli
- Letting yourself become physically and emotionally exhausted
- Misunderstanding your baby’s cues—such as when they turn their head away, which means they need to minimise input, and need a calming cuddle
Always contact your doctor if your baby is appearing to cry in excess of the norm, so that medical causes can be ruled out. And don’t hesitate to reach out to a support group or therapist if you are feeling overwhelmed with your unsettled baby.