Why Do Babies Cry?

All babies cry. And thank God they do! Otherwise, we’d never know when they need our help.

Some mild-tempered babies just whimper for minutes, vying for our attention, even when they’re super-hungry. Other spirited babies overreact and launch into blood-curdling screams, even when they just want a little holding or a diaper change!

Whether your infant is an easy-going little dude or a huge drama queen, you’ll just have to figure out what’s going on and respond to the baby’s cry the best you can.

5 Mostly Imagined Reasons Why Babies Cry

Here are 5 things you may hear…that almost never happen when your newborn baby cries.

1. Your baby is mad at you. Nope! It takes months for them to learn anger.

2. Your baby senses your anxiety. Nope! Your little one doesn’t have the psychological skills to suss out if you’re anxious, depressed or frustrated.

3. Your baby has a wet diaper. Nope! A study was done in which wet diapers were removed from crying babies. Then the wet diapers were put right back on. Most babies calmed right down, even though they were still sitting in dampness!

4. Your baby has acid reflux pain. Very rarely! All babies have reflux (we call it “spitting up”), but it’s hardly ever a reason for crying. As long as they are gaining weight nicely and not vomiting more than 5 times a day, skip the medicine and focus on soothing with the “5 S’s.” Yet still, acid reflux remains a common concern of parents. Read more about it here, and of course, discuss your baby's symptoms with your doctor.

5. Your baby needs probiotics. Nope! Bad bacteria are rarely a problem because a) Preemies have tons of bad intestinal bacteria, yet never get colic before their due date; b) Breastfed babies have “sweeter” intestinal bacteria, but have just as much colicky crying as bottle-fed babies; c) colic disappears after 3-4 months, yet those bigger babies still have plenty of smelly germs in their poop.

5 Very Real Reasons Why Your Baby Cries

Focus on these and stop worrying about the other stuff!

1. Your baby is crying because she is hungry. This is the first thing to check. Even if you fed your baby 30 minutes ago, she might just need a touch more to be satisfied.

2. He is uncomfortable. Today you don’t need to worry about pokes from open safety pins, but do check if he’s hot, cold or has a diaper rash. These are common reasons why newborns cry.

3. She has tummy pain. Some sensitive babies hate the normal peristalsis—tightening of the intestines—that happens after eating. But, a little tummy massage or the“5 S’s” usually do the trick. BTW, no studies have proven any benefit from “gripe water” or “burp drops.”

4. He is over-excited or over-tired. Noise and commotion can overwhelm a baby. And, keeping your baby awake … to make him extra tired … so he’ll sleep longer at night … usually BACKFIRES! Overtired babies cry more in the day, and wake more at night!

5. She wants to be held by you! In the womb, the little guy had non-stop cozy touch. That’s why fussy babies often calm as soon as they are held, carried in a sling, put skin-to-skin or swaddled snugly.

But, if you check everything and your baby is still upset, then there is…

One More BIG Reason Why Babies Cry

He is under-stimulated! Remember, life in the womb is a one of constant jiggles and whooshing. So, spending too much time in a quiet, still place can make your baby a little loco! 

Why Do Babies Cry for No Reason?

If your baby seems to be crying for “no reason”, then it means it’s time to try the 5 S’s. Most of the time, when it appears your baby is crying for no reason, it’s simply because your baby is unsettled by the world around him. He’s used to the snug, bustling surroundings of the womb. You can learn more about 5 S’s here. 

Final Thoughts: Why Do Babies Cry?

If your baby is crying nonstop, consider SNOO Smart Sleeper.  SNOO harnesses the principles of the 5 S's to automatically calm fussy babies. You can even now rent a SNOO for a low monthly cost. Learn more here!

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.