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Fretful Baby

Crying is a baby’s main form of communication. It is the first thing a baby does when it comes out of the womb and crying is a perfectly normal event in the life of a baby. Babies cry so the species will survive. There are many reasons why babies cry and as new parents, you will be surprised how quickly you learn to distinguish what different cries mean. It can be a very healthy sign knowing that your baby can cry and can let you know that he needs you. The bond between parents and baby is strengthened when parents are sensitive to their baby’s needs. But it can also be very distressing to parents trying to cope with a crying, fretful baby. The main reasons for crying are:

Hunger – this is one of the main causes and sometimes even if it seems you have just fed your baby, he could still be hungry. If he stops after another feed, you will know that he was telling you he was hungry.
Wind – sometimes if babies cry after a feed it can be due to indigestion or wind. Burp your baby regularly to expel swallowed air. Many babies suffer from colic and as colicky babies cry for over 3 hours in each 24 hour period and appear to be in pain with a distended tummy and gas, this is quite easy to diagnose. Babies with gastro esophageal reflux will also cry a lot.
Tiredness – when young babies have been awake for longer than usual or they have been over stimulated (being with strangers or being in a strange place) they can become irritable and overtired and it can be more difficult for them to fall asleep. Sometimes they just need a good cry to help them fall asleep.
Uncomfortable – your baby may be constipated and cry when he tries to pass a hard stool. It is important to ensure your baby has regular bowel movements. Babies can cry when they are wet or have soiled their nappy and it feels uncomfortable. A nappy rash can cause soreness so that your baby becomes sleepless and cries.
Feeling unwell – you need to eliminate illness as a cause of crying. If your baby cries inconsolably for long periods each day, you will need to get a thorough check up. Most crying babies are not sick.

A fretful baby is one which fusses on and off during the day or night. There is not a set pattern, he does not appear to be in pain and the tummy is not distended. It may just be that a fretful baby has a hard time keeping to a routine. Usually he will be this way for the first 3 months but later become adjusted to the outside world and calms down. It may be that his nervous system as well as his young digestive system has to settle down over the first few months. Fortunately, as your baby grows older crying becomes much less of a problem because as a parent you start to worry less and you know what to expect from your baby at different times of the day.

It is important for parents who have a fretful baby to have time to themselves. Parents who feel overwhelmed should take a break. Ask a partner or friend to take over for a while, even if it is just for an hour or two.