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Crying babies

Have you got lots of questions about your baby’s behaviour? You are not alone, and the good news is there is lots of fantastic information and support to help you through this exciting but sometimes scary time.


Read time: 1 minute

The good news is that all babies cry. The bad news is that all babies cry! If your baby's crying is overwhelming at times, try to remember it won't last forever.

Why is my baby crying?

Crying is your baby's way of letting you know what they need and how they feel before they have words.
Some babies cry more than others, the same way some adults talk more than others! It's also normal for babies to cry more at certain times as they develop and grow.
Your baby might be trying to tell you:

  • I'm hungry
  • I'm sleepy
  • I need a nappy change
  • I need a cuddle
  • I'm too hot
  • I'm chilly
  • I need to interact with you
  • I'd like to play
  • I need some quiet time now
  • I've got wind and feel uncomfortable in my tummy (some people refer to this as colic)
  • I don't know why, but I need to cry (this is often misinterpreted as colic. But we now know that babies do go through a period of development when they simply cry much more than normal).

Top tips to help you soothe your baby

Read time: 3 minutes

You might be able to spot signs that your baby is hungry. Gently stroke your baby's cheek. If they turn their head and start to suck they may be looking for your breast or the bottle! Some babies start licking their lips or sucking on their fists when they are hungry too. Remember that some babies will suck when they have wind too, so if they refuse the feed you could try burping them.

If your baby is crying because they need a nappy change try to keep it short and sweet. Baby might well need a change but feeling chilly or the shock of cold wipes or creams can be upsetting too!

Did you know that the best temperature for your baby's living space is 16 to 20 degrees Celsius? The best way to check if your baby is too hot or too cold is by touching their chest or the back of their neck with your hand. Don't use their hands or feet as they always feel cooler than the rest of the body. If your baby is too hot you'll feel the skin is hot, clammy or sweaty. Remove some layers to help them cool down. And of course, if they are too cold, add a layer to warm them up!

Try these ideas to help you soothe a sleepy baby:

  • Gentle noise in the background may help distract your baby
  • Hold your baby or put them in a sling so they're close to you. Try gently rocking or moving about and sing a soothing lullaby. If you don't know any make a special one up for your baby!
  • Rock your baby backwards and forwards in the pram, or go out for a walk or a drive. Even if they wake up again when you stop, at least you'll have had a break!

If your baby is needing to interact with you try talking to them or singing your favourite songs. They might want to learn about what is around them, so help them explore. Do they like to see and feel the light coming through the window? Do they like listening to new noises … a rattle or set of jangly keys? Do they enjoy watching toys that hang from above, or the touch of a soft toy?

Sometimes your baby might find their world over exciting and need some calm and quiet time. Like you! A little lie down might be all they need.

Some babies pump their legs, some wriggle and some arch their backs when they are feeling windy. If you think they are uncomfortable and windy, hold them up so their chin is at your shoulder level. Rub or gently pat their back. Remember to use a cloth on your shoulder … more than a burp might come up! Sometimes a very gentle tummy rub helps too.

Crying and illness

Have you done everything to meet your baby's needs? Does their cry not sound like their normal cry? If they have other symptoms, like a high temperature, they may be ill. We recommend you contact the Surrey 0-19 advice line or your GP.

See the NHS website for more information about spotting the signs of serious illness in a baby or a toddler.

Look after yourself

Having a new baby can feel wonderful, but it can also feel overwhelming, exhausting and scary. When your baby seems to be crying more than usual or you can't soothe them, it can make you feel helpless, frustrated or low. But try not to worry as there are many helpful websites and support services. Try to stay positive, and if you need a helping hand, reach out. Remember , being a parent can be tough so you need to look after yourself.

Information from external websites

Cry-sis share quick facts and an in-depth guide for help with 0-3 month old babies with crying and sleep problems

Cry-sis also have quick facts and an in-depth guide for help with 3-12 month old babies with crying and sleep problems

Barnardo's Family Space has a helpful article on baby's first year, and another great one on baby massage.

The NCT have 11 helpful articles on crying that will hep you understand why your baby might be crying and what you can do. They also have lots of information on teething and how to ease the pain.

The NHS has a helpful page with information on soothing a crying baby

The NHS has some helpful advice on spotting when your baby is teething, and tips for making it easier for them.

Struggling and need to talk?

Action for Children offer 1:1 chat with a parenting coach (Mon - Fri). If they are closed you can leave a message and a parenting coach will get back to you within 3 working days.

Cry-sis is a national charity which offers support for parents with crying and sleepless babies. Their Helpline is open 7 days a week from 9am to 10pm. Calls cost 2p per minute plus the standard network charge. Call 08451 228 669

Family Lives has a free, confidential helpline, offering emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Call the Family Lives helpline on 0808 800 2222 (Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm and on weekends from 10am to 3pm).

NSPCC has a free, confidential helpline for parents looking for advice. Call 0808 800 5000 (Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm or 9am – 6pm at the weekends).

The Surrey Children and Family Health Advice Line is available from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays). They can provide support on all aspects of child health, development and parenting for families with children from birth to 19 years old. Call the Surrey-wide 0-19 Advice Line on 01883 340 922

Face-to-face support

You could also talk to your health visitor or your GP.

Useful videos on soothing crying babies

You might want to have a look at this NCT video on how to cope with a crying baby.

View on YouTube

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has produced some helpful videos with great tips for soothing crying babies, including a video by mums and dads about how they cope with their own babies' crying.

ICON also has a range of videos on their parenting pages with information that you may find useful.

If you need tips on looking after yourself, try tip 1 from the help with difficult behaviour section of the Families Under Pressure video collection.

Helpful tools and apps

Baby Buddy is an award-winning mobile app, created by mums, doctors and midwives and recommended by Children and Family Health Surrey and the NHS.

The app has lots of helpful information and videos about all aspects of being a new parent.

A web-based version is also available.

The Paediatric HANDi App is approved by Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership. It offers straight forward advice and support on symptoms of common childhood illnesses.

DadPad is a practical guide for new dads, developed with the NHS.

New dads often feel excited, but may also feel left out, unsure or overwhelmed. The DadPad can help by giving you the knowledge and practical skills that you need to give your new baby the best start in life.

The NSPCC recognise that all parents can come under pressure or stress from time to time. The Positive Parenting guide shares practical advice and tips for parenting techniques that work well for children of all ages – from babies to teenagers.

Surrey's Family Learning and Adult Learning teams have developed a family wellbeing resource, with lots of tips on looking after yourself and your family during these challenging times.

Online parenting guides

Surrey residents get free access to an online guide that include top tips from childcare, education and NHS health experts

How to register

Registration is quick and easy. Go to the OurPlace website and use the access code 'ACORN' to get your free guide.

Access to the guide is unlimited with no expiry date, so you can return as and when you need and want to. Why not watch the Child and Family Health video to find out more.

Community support, courses and local help

Choose the area you live in for local services. Please note that due to coronavirus (Covid-19) very few community services are currently running.

BETA: We would really appreciate your feedback to help us improve and grow the service. We're listening!

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Date published: 22 Apr 2021