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Why babies cry

Babies normally have at least one period of being unsettled a day. They cry for many reasons.

Crying is your baby’s way of communicating with you that they need something.

Sometimes a process of elimination will help you know what it is that your baby needs.

The way you respond to your baby's crying is important. If you respond calmly, this helps them to manage their distress and feel secure.

Reasons your baby may be crying include:

Your baby is hungry or thirsty

Your baby may be trying to find your breast, or making sucking motions with their mouth. These are early feeding cues and this is the best time to try feeding your baby.


Preparing baby formula

Your baby needs a nappy change

Some babies dislike the sensation of being wet or dirty. Check if your baby needs their nappy changed.

How to change a nappy

Your baby may have wind, colic or reflux

If your baby seems unsettled, hold them upright and gently rub or pat their back. Wind your baby during and after each feed.

Winding and burping your baby

Colic in babies

Your baby may be overtired or overstimulated

Even simple things like new faces and bright lights can be overwhelming for babies.

Take them to a darkened room where it is quiet and calm. Make soothing noises or play soft music.

Your baby may be uncomfortable

Babies dislike being cold or too hot. They like to feel cosy and warm, but be careful not to dress your baby in too many layers.

Check your baby is not too hot or cold. It is normal for a baby’s hands and feet to feel cool but their tummy should be warm to touch.

Check there are no labels from clothing digging into their skin. Check there is no hair wrapped around their fingers or toes.

Your baby may need to be close to you

Babies need to be close to their parents, to hear their voices, listen to their heartbeats. They also find movement soothing.

You can try:

  • holding your baby close
  • singing or talking to them
  • carrying them with you
  • placing your baby safely in a sling

Comforting your baby

One of the most important things you can do is to comfort your baby and make sure they are safe. Everything is new to them and they may easily feel startled, scared or upset.

Your baby will feel reassured and loved if you comfort them. Simply being close to you may calm them.

Watch a video on soothing a crying baby

Looking after yourself

Hearing your baby crying can be very upsetting. Some babies cry more than others. It is normal to feel stressed when your baby is crying, especially if nothing you do seems to be helping.

Once you know that your baby’s needs are met, it is time to look after yourself.

Ways to care for yourself:

  • Ask for help. Someone you trust can take over while you get a break.
  • Call a friend or family member for help, advice and support.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Put on relaxing music to distract yourself.

If the crying doesn't stop

Sometimes nothing you do seems to work.

You can try:

  • going for a drive with your baby
  • going for a walk with baby in their buggy or pram
  • leaving your baby's nappy off and letting them kick their legs
  • bathing your baby
  • asking for help

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if:

  • the crying seems unusual
  • you are worried your baby may be ill

Page last reviewed: 29 June 2022
Next review due: 29 June 2025