Over the time, your interactive support, queries & appreciation have made us a leading Parenting platform for Moms the world over,

We acknowledge this everytime! Thank you


The Crying Baby

“Look at this little rascal. He has been crying and crying and would sure drive me mad,” said a young sophisticated mother, drawing my attention to her two-month-old infant, the other day.

Well, excessive crying is quite a common problem in small children. Though in majority of the cases its cause is minor (at times it may not be clear), the baby who cries a lot may leave the mother tense, exhausted and bored. One such mother told me in Simla a few years back: “At times she gets so much on my nerves that I really feel like throwing her out of the window.” She added: “After a day’s hard work, you do need sleep. Don’t you? Imagine then our predicament when her continuous crying bores us to death.”

The Crying Baby

Looking for the cause

Why do babies cry? Most mothers (in fact, both parents and even other family members) would like to know the reason(s) so that they can find the remedial measures.

Hunger crying: This is by far the most common cause of periodical crying. The younger the baby, the greater are the chances of his crying for the feed. One hungry baby may wait to make a fuss while another may immediately start screaming and crying, not stopping until he is fed.

Experience has demonstrated that if the mother is fairly sure that it is far too early to give him the feed (perhaps she gave a good one just an hour back), she is well advised to refrain from offering the breast or the bottle. All that may stop his crying is to be picked up and fondled.

Yet, very often some mothers – including the educated ones – wonder why the baby should cry for feed when they have been giving an adequate quantity of it. A good proportion of them have poor idea about a growing baby’s requirements. Some just do not really know how to prepare the formula. One such mother, a lecturer in a college, was recently found adding 100 per cent water to her three­month-old’s feeds. What she was feeding to the infant was all right as far as the total quantity of the feed was concerned. However, it contained just half of the recommended quantity of milk. Good reason for his crying and crying and his growth failure!

You are well advised to avoid diluted cow’s milk for the baby. Also, don’t ever overdilute the baby milk powder. Prepare the formula as per instructions printed on the tin or in the leaflet that you may find inside it. If, however, your doctor has advised you otherwise, that makes an entirely different story. He knows your baby the best. Better follow his instructions.

Thirst crying: Just as too diluted a feed causes hunger crying, a highly concentrated formula may cause excessive thirst crying, especially in early days.

Erratic feeding technique: Some mothers just do not know that feeding too is a technique. They feed the child in such a position that proximity of the breast almost blocks the baby’s nose.

Yet another group of inexperienced mothers do not properly kick the wind out, the so-called burping, after feeding the baby. The wind in the stomach causes discomfort and crying. The cry of such a baby is in the form of high-pitched screams. Crying in this situation leads to inhalation of further wind. A vicious cycle of wind-crying-wind­

The Crying Baby

Need for company: Little ones need love and company. Their resentment against “loneliness” is well-founded. All that such a baby can do to express his disgust is to cry. Crying will stop when he is picked up, more so by the mother who does nearly everything for him and to whom he is rightly attached.

I have frequently been asked if it is fair to pick up the baby when he cries and asks for it. I feel it is quite fair – in fact, eminently desirable.

Won’t it turn him into a spoilt child? Won’t it be a faulty upbringing? Most authorities hold that picking up and loving the baby in moderation will make him more secure and less demanding in later years. As Ronald Illingworth puts it, “mothers who are most careful to avoid spoiling are often the possessors of children who are horribly spoiled and insecure. Such children cling to their mother’s legs far too long – long after other children have learnt independent and more mature behaviour.”

Discomfort: A wet or soiled nappy usually troubles an infant, causing him to cry. Let the mother make him clean and dry and change the nappy. All too soon, he becomes quiet.

Overclothing and underclothing also may cause the child to cry.

At times crying is secondary to something pricking the baby. In the winter of 1971, I was approached by a young lady whose 3-month­old son would scream restlessly every night. This had been going on for about a week or so. There was no obvious cause I could find. When I visited their house in a posh locality of Chandigarh, I was surprised to see how small negligences could lead to troubles. There were quite a few pins stuck into the little blanket that was being used for the baby at night. In the subsequent years I have found similar situations on more than twenty occasions.

Teething: Eruption of teeth is a painful process, making some babies exceedingly irritable. They may cry a lot. Eruption of the back teeth may be accompanied by earache. I have often come across mothers rushing to ENT specialists in such cases. No doubt, ears are found to be normal. Yet, it is a good policy to rule out ear problem before ascribing earache to teething.

Tiredness: Most babies sleep after getting exhausted. Some react differently. They, particularly the ones beyond three months of age, may cry and cry and refuse the feed. Such a baby needs gentle fondling and rocking before he agrees to fall asleep.

Boredom: At five months of age, the baby may not like to continue to lie flat. Propped up position enabling him to see what is happening in the surroundings, usually helps to quieten him. Changing the position and making available something to see are, therefore, strongly recommended for growing infants.

Three month colic: Some babies during the first three months of life experience a sharp tummy pain towards the evening. The baby is usually healthy. No specific underlying cause has so far been found. It is possible that wind in the stomach or certain foods have some role to play in its causation. If your baby has a problem, you may note if any food aggravates or causes it and accordingly avoid it.

The important thing for the family and the mother to bear in mind is that undue anxiety would only lead to further panic.

Still, if you feel the child is very much in distress, approaching the doctor will be quite in order. Maybe the baby needs a tranquilliser or a little sedation.

Habit crying: Some babies take mothers for a ride and develop the habit of crying in the hope that they would be picked up at the slightest pretext. Once you are convinced of the habit of crying, you must put your foot down. It is difficult to break it but, with firmness and determination, you are bound to be a success. Do not get disheartened.

Personality trait: A certain proportion of crying in children is perhaps related to “personality”. The child has no idea of what he wants. He does not know what is wrong. And, so he cries.

How far mother’s own anxiety, tension and nervousness contribute to such crying is not clear. Nor is the role of naughtiness, spoiling, temper or habit formation as yet understood in its causation.

Battering: As a mother you may not like it but the fact is that some cruel parents treat an unwanted child badly. There are cases of little daughters being beaten and starved. I know of a nine-month­old who was brought to the hospital for excessive crying and with a black eye which was ascribed by the father to a fall. On examination, I found several old injuries including those of the bones. X-rays confirmed the presence of healing fractures. The father later admitted having mercilessly beaten the child on several occasions in the recent past. The parents had eight issues in total. All were daughters. They were particularly upset that the child under reference also turned out to be a girl.

Sickness: A common cause of abdominal pain and crying in the second half of the first year is the presence of worms in the intestines. In most parts of our country, roundworm, threadworm, giardia, hookworm, amoeba and dwarf tapeworm are very common in children. Your doctor would like to have one or more stool examination of the child to confirm or rule out this possibility. Treatment is quite simple but you should leave it to the doctor’s advice. Self-medication can be dangerous.

Also, look for painful sores, boils or rashes which may be responsible for crying.

Acute infections such as upper respiratory infection, rhinitis (nose inflammation) or otitis (ear infection) or stomach upset need consultation from the doctor.

What should you do ?

Most often babies cry because of hunger or discomfort from a wet nappy. You should be in a position to differentiate the two and take needful action such as offering feed or changing the nappy.

It is perfectly in order to pick up the crying child,  fondle him and simultaneously talk to him. Rub, cuddle and caress him with rhythmic rocking movements.

Make sure that overclothing or underclothing or  an insect bite is not making him cry.

In case of three month colic, anticolic drops may be given 15-30 minutes before the expected time of crying. Avoid resort to Gripe Water mixture which contains alcohol.

In case crying is incessant, particularly with fever and feeding difficulty, do not delay consulting the paediatrician.

Avoid dummies and pacifiers

newborn care after delivery

If you have been asked by a friend or the grandmother of the baby to resort to the use of pacifiers and dummies to calm down the crying child, just wait. You are being led up the garden path. These articles are no substitute for your love and fondling. In addition, there is the risk of their introducing infection into the baby’s mouth. Also, malocclusion and/or caries in front teeth may result.

If you are an honest and loving mother, do not expose your baby to all these risks just because you want to relax. He needs you, not the dummy.

Leave a Comment