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Children & Young People's Emotional Health

All Babies Cry

Crying is part of a baby’s language. Crying is normal, but can be hard to cope with. Lots of babies don’t cry very much in the first few days after birth, so it can feel a shock when the crying increases. 

When your baby cries a lot it can be very stressful and may make you feel lonely. It might knock your confidence. It is important to remember that all babies cry.

  • You're not doing anything wrong
  • It won’t last forever
  • You're not alone; there are people and services to support you.

Baby Crying Facts

Most babies will cry more often from 2 weeks old and cry most when they are around 6 - 8 weeks old.

All babies are different and some babies carry on crying more than others.

You are not doing anything wrong and neither is your baby. It is a stage they are working through and it will pass.

Sometimes babies cry a lot because they are unwell. If you are worried your baby might be ill seek medical advice. There is always someone to ask 24/7. You can call your GP or 111.

Be careful to always handle your baby gently, never shake them. Some parents and carers have shaken their babies whilst feeling very stressed and babies have sadly been badly injured or died. It is very important to take a break when you need to.

Dive Deeper

Why Babies Cry

All babies are different and their personalities will make a difference to how they cope with the world around them. They are still learning who they can rely on. They are getting used to new feelings, sounds and smells. Some babies find this harder to cope with than others.

If your baby is crying you will probably try the ‘usual checklist’ first.

Are they hungry?

Babies have very small tummies and need to eat little and often. Look for ‘cues’ to see if they are hungry.

Read more about feeding cues

Are they wet or dirty?

Some babies prefer to be in a clean nappy.

Are they too hot or cold?

Feel their tummy or back of their neck to check this out. Hands and feet often feel cooler so are not a good way of telling.

Have they got a pain?

Find out about how to spot if your child is in pain. You might check all of these things and your baby will still be crying. 

Does you baby need to be held?

The place your baby will feel safest is often in your arms. This helps your baby feel safe and confident you are there for them. This trust often leads to less crying. You could try a sling or baby carrier to free up your hands some times.

As your baby gets - older usually from around 6 months - they might get upset when you are out of sight. This is normal. It is because your baby has started to worry that you might not come back. It can feel scary for them when you are not close by.

  • Always let your baby know when you are going to leave the room and tell them you will be back.
  • Comfort them and give them lots of reassurance when you come back in the room.
  • Over time they will feel more confident that you always come back when you say you will.

Is too much going on?

Babies can find too much noise or too many people hard to cope with. Take them to a quieter place to settle them if you can. Hold them close and turn their bodies in towards you so they can take a break.

Are they struggling to get to sleep?

Being ‘over tired’ can lead to crying. Your baby will probably give signs they are tired; eye rubbing, ear pulling or gazing off into the distance. Rocking and talking softly to your baby in a quiet space, walks in their pram and rides in the car can help when they can’t seem to nod off.

Understanding Different Cries

What Can I Do?

Don’t be hard on yourself if sometimes everything you try doesn’t seem to help. Learning what works for your baby can take time.

Keep your baby close

If your baby is close, you will find it easier to spot the signs your baby needs you early and this can reduce crying time. It is often easier to settle a baby if you can step in before they get really upset.

Respond to your baby’s cries 

Even if what you are doing does not stop the crying - your baby will sense you are trying to help them. This is very important. The trusting bond this builds between you helps your baby feel secure and helps to reduce the crying.

When babies are often left to cry they feel scared and alone and won't learn they can rely on you. If this keeps happening they may give up asking for your help.

Talk to your baby

Your baby will have learnt to recognise your voice in the womb. Chat to your baby calmly. Let them know you are there to help them.

It can help you both if you guess what they are trying to ‘say’ - ‘I know, you want to tell daddy that you are lonely and need a cuddle’ or ‘I know, you feel hungry and want your milk’

Songs and nursery rhymes, humming and ‘shushing’ can all help.

Talk to other people

Tell people that your baby is crying a lot and sometimes it is really hard to settle them. Lots of people have been in the same situation. Friends and family may have some top tips of what worked for them. 

Ask for help from your partner, friends and family

Ask for what feels most useful to you. They could cook a meal or make you a cup of tea. Maybe they could try and comfort the baby whilst you take a break and clear your head or just be with you and keep you company.

Rest whenever you get a chance; this is a tiring time. It won’t last forever and the tidying can wait. Even a short catnap will give you an energy boost.

Get out when you can

A walk in the fresh air can help your mood and your baby might nod off to sleep too!

Top Tips for Dads

Dads can struggle with baby crying just as much as mums. We've put together some top tips to share and help dads with their parenthood journey.

 

When Should I Worry?

If the crying seems different to normal – is high pitched or your baby is making other sounds that you feel worried about, then get some advice.

Read more about who to contact if your baby has other symptoms or you are worried

Trust your instincts. If you feel worried that something is not right get in touch with your GP or 111 for advice. If their phone lines are busy and you think your baby is seriously ill or getting worse, call 999.

If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone. Emergency SMS is part of the standard 999 service which has been designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.

Looking After Yourself

Look after yourself – it can be exhausting and frustrating when your baby cries a lot. It is important to find ways to stay calm. Your baby is very tuned in to how you feel and will sense this – it can even make the crying worse. It is not easy caring for an unsettled baby and can feel hard to cope.

Tell someone

If you are feeling stressed and exhausted by the crying - please tell someone. You will be able to get support. You will not be judged. You will be taking an important step to making things better for you and your family.

  • Tell people that your baby is crying a lot and sometimes it is really hard to settle them. Lots of people have been in the same situation. Friends and family may have some top tips of what worked for them
  • You may find it easier to talk to a professional  your midwife, health visitor or you can call Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 to talk to a health professional
  • If you are feeling stressed by the crying and it is out of hours you can call 111 for support and advice too.

Ask for help

Ask family and friends for the help that feels most useful to you.

  • They could cook a meal or make you a cup of tea
  • They could try and comfort the baby whilst you take a break and clear your head
  • Or they could just be with you and keep you company.

If you are on your own put your baby safely in their cot when you feel the irritation building up. Go in another room. Slow down your breathing until you begin to feel better. Make a drink and eat something. Call a friend if you need to and tell them how you are feeling. Go back to your baby and check on them every few minutes, until you feel calm enough to pick them up and try to settle them again.

Rest

Take a break whenever you get a chance; this is a tiring time. It won’t last forever and the tidying can wait. Even a short catnap will give you an energy boost.

Get out when you can

A walk in the fresh air can help your mood. You could put your baby in their pram or sling, the change of scenery will help you and your baby might nod off to sleep too! 

Relaxation

Finding the time to relax when you have a baby can seem like an impossible idea! However it is important for your wellbeing to find ways to unwind. Being able to ‘take a breath’ when you are feeling stressed can really help you and your baby to calm down.

Relaxation techniques can be as short or as long as you have time for.

  • It can be as simple as slowing down your breathing at moments of stress (breathe in for 4 and out slowly for 7)
  • If you learnt relaxation techniques for yourself and/or your partner in preparation for labour – remember you can use these now too!
  • You could set aside time for mindfulness and meditation every dayHeadspace also have some short and longer exercises to try.

You might need to try a few things to find out what helps you to relax the most. You could try;

  • Pulling up and tensing your shoulders, holding them tight then slowly relaxing them and letting them drop down loosely.
  • Repeating a positive statement to yourself. ‘I am in control’ or ‘I am doing a good job’ choose something that works for you.
  • Picture yourself in a ‘happy place’ maybe a warm beach or a bright frosty day. Close your eyes and imagine yourself there. Close your eyes and focus on the sights, sounds and smells that would be there.

Grounding Technique

You could try a grounding technique as a way of taking back your control. It can help you feel calmer at stressful times reminding you of the world around you. Take a slow deep breath then;

LOOK: for 5 things that you can see. Count them up. 1) I see the changing mat, 2) I see the sofa, 3) I see my mug….. Keep going until you have counted 5 things.

FEEL: Think of 4 things that you can feel in your body. Count them up 1) I feel my feet cold on the floor 2) I feel the soft blanket on the sofa …. Keep going until you have counted 4 things.

LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds. Count them up 1) I can hear the traffic outside, 2) I can hear the wind blowing…. Keep going until you have counted 3 things.

SMELL: Say two things you can smell. Count them up 1) I can smell my baby’s shampoo 2) I can smell my coffee…… Keep going until you have counted 2 things.

TASTE: Say one thing you can taste. It might be your coffee, or your toothpaste from earlier.

Finally, take another slow breath, you can repeat the 5 steps if needed.

When It Feels Too Much

It is important if you feel like things are getting too much, you give yourself time to get back in control of your emotions.

  • If you have a partner or other adult living with you, ask them to take over. Even if that means waking them up.
  • Go to another room, go for a walk, have a shower, bath or something to eat and drink or take 5 minutes to do a relaxation exercise.

If you are on your own

  • Put your baby safely in their cot when you stat to feel cross or like you might loose control.
  • Go in another room. Slow down your breathing until you begin to feel better.
  • Make a drink and eat something. Call a friend if you need to and tell them how you are feeling.
  • Go back to your baby and check on them every few minutes, until you feel calm enough to pick them up and try to settle them again.

If your baby is still crying put them in their pram or a sling and go for a walk. The change of scene can help you and the baby.

If you are on your own, feel really stressed and are struggling to calm down, you can call 111.


Safety Plans

Having a baby can be really tough sometimes. The crying can be hard to cope with alongside the tiredness and life changes that a new baby brings.

Although it is difficult to imagine it ever happening to you - we know that it can push people to their limits. It is not surprising that even the calmest people sometimes find their baby crying very stressful.

What Is a Safety Plan?

A safety plan is a plan of what you will do if your baby keeps crying and you become upset or angry. Making a plan during your pregnancy or once baby has arrived can help you from feeling overwhelmed.

Your plan can include; 

  • People you can call on for for support.
  • Techniques you can use to cope.

Having a plan of how you will deal with the harder days can be reassuring and make sure you and your baby have the support you need when you need it.

Sometimes babies cry (or go very quiet) because they are unwell. If you are worried your baby might be poorly then call your GP or 111 - trust your instincts.

Who can Help?

Cry-sis is a charity especially to support parents struggling with an unsettled baby. You can call 08451 228669 between 9am and 10pm every day.

Even in the middle of the night if you have no one to support you and you are worried about how you are feeling, you can call 111 for support.

For adults Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.

For 11–25 year olds Kooth is a free, confidential and safe way to receive online counselling, advice and emotional well-being support. 

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team. 

Childline - Children and young people under 19 can call 0800 1111 for free support.

Young Minds Parents Helpline - Call 0808 802 5544 for free Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.

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