Crying: When Should You Worry?

There is no such thing as spoiling a baby that is 12 weeks old or younger. Please don't let anyone convince you otherwise. It makes no sense that in receiving a basic right your very small baby should earn a label that describes him as having a flawed character. Babies need lots of human contact, cuddling, and holding. Babies also need to cry.

Babies need to cry

Babies cry an average of two hours daily. This is their way of releasing tension. Two hours is average, and some babies need more that that. However, allowing them to cry it all out at once is unnatural because the human response to a baby's cry is anxiety—the parents want to soothe the baby. As the infant cries, the parent feels a sense of discomfort. The most natural rhythm in the relationship between a small baby and its parents is the evocative crying of the infant and the parents' calming response. These two states, crying and calm, the baby's cry for help and the parent's response, alternate with perfect regularity throughout these first several weeks.

Mother's instinct

Crying also helps you to gauge your child's health. A mother learns quite fast the breadth of range and length of her child's cry. She hears the baby cry and knows if the baby is hungry, tired, tense, or lonely. She knows how long her baby is liable to cry. Therefore, if the nature of the baby's cry has changed (for example, high-pitched and piercing, or weak and mournful), or if he is inconsolable for many hours (for instance, he cries for three hours at a time), the mother's instinct tells her that something is wrong.

If your baby cries in a manner that is different than is usual for him, start checking for the cause. The reason could be as simple as scratchy clothing, or a crib toy that poked him in the belly. Look for a rash, see if he needs to burp, but after you exhaust all the usual suspects, pick up the phone and call your pediatrician, even if he has no fever or symptoms of illness.

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