Nightmares Or Night Terrors
Though most common around 3 to 4 years old, nightmares or night terrors can definitely disrupt a babys sleep and leave them crying hysterically for you during the night. But most babies wont begin having night terrors until 18 months, so if your baby is younger than that, its probably not the cause.
Younger babies are, however, prone to an overactive startle reflex that can often look like theyve woken up from a bad dream.
Babies will startle themselves awake between sleep cycles, Ahmed says, and it just takes a pat on the back or a physical touch to help them back to sleep.
Infant Crying As A Consequence Of Parental Anxiety: The Case For Blaming The Parents
The argument goes like this: Due to inexperience, anxiety, or depression, some parents show more negative emotions to their babies. They might also show less engagement with their babies, particularly if they are depressed. The babies respond by crying, fussing, and being irritable.
This idea has some intuitive appeal. After all, its not fun to be around people who are in distress, and many studies have linked family stress with colic .
Moreover, we know that some parents show signs of stress or depression before theyve been exposed to excessive infant crying.
For instance, one study tracked women during pregnancy and found that mothers were more likely to report colicky babies if they had experienced problems or stress during pregnancy. Colic was also associated with negative childbirth experiences .
Another longitudinal study found that mothers who reported more stress and less support from their partners at two weeks postpartum were more likely to report babies with colic at six weeks postpartum .
But early signs of anxiety or depression arent strong proof that parents cause most cases of excessive crying
There are other explanations. For one thing, these studies depend on parent self-reports to identify excessive infant crying. Maybe parents who are already distressed or depressed are less tolerant of crying and more likely to report it as a problem.
Your Child Is Stressed
Stress is a big reason for tears, particularly in older children. As a parent who has to pay the bills and run a busy household, you might wonder what a child has to be stressed about.
The answer is, a lot of things! Kids who are overscheduledperhaps going from soccer to piano to play practice to playdatescan become quite stressed. All kids need free time to play creatively, as well as to relax.
Kids can also become stressed from whats going on around them, such as trouble in their parents marriage, a move or school change, or even events they overhear on the nightly news. A child might become uncharacteristically teary child if they’re feeling the burden of stressful life eventseven those that do not directly involve them.
Younger children who are stressed will need an adult’s help in changing the environment. By helping them reduce stressful circumstances, you’re also giving them a chance to learn to manage their emotions.
Older children can benefit from learning skills to manage stress. From deep breathing and meditation to exercise and leisure activities, healthy stress reduction activities will help your child gain control over their emotions.
Why Do Babies Cry
All newborns cry and get fussy sometimes. It’s normal for a baby to cry for 23 hours a day for the first 6 weeks. During the first 3 months of life, they cry more than at any other time.
New parents often are low on sleep and getting used to life with their little one. They’ll quickly learn to find out if their crying baby:
- is hungry
- has a wet or dirty diaper
- is too hot or cold
Often, taking care of a baby’s needs is enough to soothe a baby. But sometimes, the crying goes on longer.
Gradual Distance Technique For Your Crying Baby
The gradual distancing technique is one of the methods suggested to help stop a baby from crying at night for no reason. Instead of severing your role in the babys get-back-to-sleep routine in one go, this method advocates doing it in a phased manner. Here is how you can go about this:
With this method, in about a few weeks, you should be able to put down your baby in the crib at bedtime and walk out while he falls asleep on his own. Also, remember the following tips to make the most of this technique:
- It is best to try this only when you feel your baby can handle it. Four months is the suggested age.
- Try not to take a step back when using this method as it can undo all that has been achieved.
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Recognize And Cope With Colic
Colic is a general term used for babies who cry more than three hours a day for more than three days a week. A baby with colic will often cry inconsolably despite all attempts to comfort and soothe. The cause of colic, which affects one in five babies, is not clear. Some experts think that colic may be connected to the development of the infants intestinal system, related to acid reflux , or to food allergies.
Identify Your Babys Cries
Generally, a sudden, long, high-pitched shriek means pain, while a short, low-pitched cry that rises and falls indicates hunger. But to say a particular cry means one thing for all babies isnt possible.
Crying is individual from baby to baby, and has much to do with temperament. If your first child was super chill, and this newborn is, well, not so much, you may wonder if theres something wrong with them.
Theres probably nothing wrong, says Hill. Some babies just have a more sensitive temperament and, therefore, are more dramatic in their crying.
If you observe and listen to your infant every day, youll start to distinguish the different sounds of their cries. If your baby screams when theyre hungry, listen to that cry and how its different from the others.
It helps to imagine youre learning a foreign language. If you really pay attention to those cries, over time, you and your baby will develop your own vocabulary.
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Special Circumstances That Might Require Professional Help
Physical, mental, or emotional challenges at birth, or soon after, are often traumatic to an infant and can cause your babys nervous system to get stuck. A nervous system that is stuck will probably have difficulty with regulation, which means the baby will have a hard time settling down.
Special or traumatic circumstances that might cause problems include:
- Premature birth.
How To Calm Your Crying Baby At Night
If your baby wakes up crying at night despite all his needs being met, it is likely that he has made it a habit. Here are some ways in which you can help your child calm down and sleep through the night:
- Put your baby in the crib or on the bed when hes drowsy but still awake. Be certain to place your child in the crib at this point even if his bedtime ritual has not been completed. The babys last waking memory has to be of the bed or crib, and not of you. This will encourage him to go back to sleep on his own when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
- If your baby refuses to stop crying at bedtime, keep visiting him at intervals of five to fifteen minutes. You can keep increasing the duration between visits. However, do not let the baby get too upset if he seems extremely fussy or afraid, hold him till he calms down. You can sit in the room for a few moments till he calms down, but try to leave before he falls asleep.
- Dont take your child out of the crib or bed once you have tucked him in for the night. Rocking your baby until he falls asleep or bringing him into your bed for a while will defeat the purpose of this exercise.
- Introduce your baby to a security object such as a soft toy or a blanket if your baby is six months or older. This will be of comfort to your baby when he wakes up at night and he will soon be happy cuddling this object instead of you at night.
Some other things that you can try to ensure a regular sleep schedule for your child are:
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When To Speak With Your Pediatrician
For the most part, all of these sleep concerns are ones you can resolve at home. It might not be easy to do so and sometimes the answer simply isnt that obvious but nighttime wakings are not typically something that requires a doctors visit.
That said, if your baby seems ill, isnt eating or peeing normally, or has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, Ahmed says you probably should check in with your doctor. Same goes for babies who are crying inconsolably night after night with no apparent cause.
Of course, youre always welcome to call your doctor at any time for tips, advice, or even to schedule a just in case appointment to rule out physical issues that could be waking up your baby at night. Thats what theyre there for, and theyve seen it all.
Evaluate Your Own Emotional State
When your baby cries for hours on end, it is natural to feel responsible. Often, though, blaming yourself can get in the way of your ability to be calm, present, and responsive to your baby. The relationship with your baby is a partnership, so your emotions will make a difference to how your baby reacts. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, angry, anxious, or detached, your baby may have trouble calming down.
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Your Child Wants Attention
Sometimes it seems like the tears come out of nowhere. One minute your child is playing happily, you turn your back for a second, and they’re sobbing.
Your child knows that crying is a great way to get your attention. Attentioneven when its negativereinforces a child’s behavior. If you respond by saying Stop screaming, or Why are you crying now? it can actually encourage your childs tantrums to continue.
Ignore attention-seeking behavior whenever possible. Avoid making eye contact and dont start a conversation when your child is looking for your attention. Eventually, they’ll see that its not fun to throw a tantrum or scream loudly when they do not have a captive audience.
Show your child that they can get your attention by playing nicely, using kind words, and following the rules. Offer frequent praise for these behaviors and your child will be less likely to try and use tears to capture your attention.
Give your child regular doses of positive attention. Set aside a few minutes every day to get down on the floor with them, play a game, or toss a ball back and forth. Your child will be less likely to cry for attention if you give them a few minutes to be in the spotlight every day.
Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression
Having a baby who is difficult to comfort can increase parents stress and can contribute to the baby blues and/or postpartum depression. As many as 50%80% of new mothers experience the baby blues in the first 10 days after childbirth. Symptoms may include tearfulness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and feelings of loss. The baby blues usually get better after about 10 days.
Approximately 8%15% of new moms experience postpartum depression in the first year of motherhood, which is different from the blues. With depression, symptoms last more than 2 weeks and include feeling down and hopeless, increased crying, feeling little pleasure or interest in activities one used to enjoy, and loss of energy. If you are experiencing these feelings, it is very importantfor you and your babythat you seek help from a trusted health professional.
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Will My Baby’s Crying Change As They Grow
A babys feeding, age, environment and temperament all have an impact on their behaviour. All babies go through changes in their crying patterns and sometimes its hard to work out why.
In the first 3 years of life, babies are developing connections or pathways in their brain and need consistent, nurturing care to feel safe. This takes a lot of energy from parents, who often feel tired and sleep deprived.
As your baby gets older, their sleep patterns will become more predictable. Newborns sleep between 14 and 17 hours of each 24-hour day. As they mature, theyll need less sleep during the day and have more continuous sleep overnight.
Am I The Reason My Baby Wont Stop Crying
Are you distracted, overwhelmed, and at breaking point? If youre stressed out and exhausted, youre going to have trouble relating to your baby in a soothing, nurturing way. So, its important to get the support you need.
Fortunately, there are great opportunities for overcoming the limitations a parent or child may bring to the attachment relationship. Parents who learn how to calm themselves, ask for support, and communicate with their infants can find the means for creating a successful attachment relationshipessentially teaching by their exampleeven with an upset or unresponsive infant.
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Final Thoughts: Baby Suddenly Crying Inconsolably
Note: Food allergy/sensitivity is the only common medical cause of colic. While some more serious problems are possible, its important to have the perspective that they occur in less than 1% of fussy babies.Get your baby checked by a doctor to know for sure.
Did you know? Colicky babies are helped by a 4th trimester of recreating the soothing sensations of the womb. SNOO Smart Bassinet does just that, and promotes sleep for fussy babies. Learn more.
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Connect with us at .
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.
Your Child Wants Something
Young kids don’t understand the difference between wants and needs. When they want something, they often assert they need itand right now. Whether they insist on playing with a breakable heirloom or want you to take them to the park, tears of disappointment and desperation are bound to happen.
If you give in after you said noeither because you feel guilty or you think you cant stand to listen to more cryingyou’re teaching your child that they can use tears to manipulate you.
While its important to show empathy, dont let your child’s tears change your behavior. Say things like, I understand you are feeling upset right now, or I feel sad we cant go to the park too, but reinforce that youre a parent of your word.
Proactively teach your child socially appropriate ways to deal with their feelings when they aren’t getting something what they want. Coloring a picture, saying, Im really sad, or taking a few deep breaths are a few coping skills that might help them deal with uncomfortable emotions.
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