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What to do when nothing seems to be working about crying baby

It is very hard to cope with a baby who seems to be crying all the time.

  • you may feel helpless when your baby keeps on crying. Just think - it's not always easy for you to calm down if you're very upset. It's the same for your baby. Try to remember that you can't always stop the crying but you can still comfort your baby
  • tune in to your baby's cry. Don't let the distress become too great before you decide to comfort your baby. Take a few deep breaths first if it helps you to slow/calm down
  • if your baby continues to cry and you are starting to feel desperate, put your baby down in a safe place and walk into another room for a short break, or if available, ask somebody to take over the settling for a while. Remember, you are doing the best you can. When you go back, you may find your baby is easier to calm

There is something called "the period of PURPLE crying" which refers to a time period when some babies begin crying more and may be hard to settle. This usually starts at about two weeks of age and peaks at eight weeks. It usually ends by 12 weeks of age. The letters in PURPLE stand for the common parts of non-stop crying in babies:

P – peak pattern (crying peaks around two months of age, then decreases)
U – unpredictable (crying can come and go for no reason)
R – resistant to soothing (baby may keep crying no matter what you do to try to soothe them)
P – pain-like look on baby's face
L – long bouts of crying (crying can go on for hours)
E – evening crying (baby cries more in the afternoon and evening)

Parents may feel guilty and angry if they can't soothe their baby. The period of PURPLE crying tells us that if a baby is not ill and parents have tried to soothe baby, it is alright if they cannot stop baby from crying. Some babies are going to cry no matter what. The good news is that the period of PURPLE crying will end!

At times you may feel you are failing at being a parent. Most parents feel like this at one time or another. It may be difficult to ask for help, but it's easier if someone can help you. Things will improve with time, but you have to survive in the meantime! It is important to look after and be kind to yourself.

You will probably get a lot of advice from many different people. This can be very confusing and you may wonder what to do. The best advice to take is usually what feels right to you. You may decide that the best thing to do is to pick up and cuddle your baby. Be prepared for well-meaning people to tell you that you are giving in and that your baby has got their own way. Be reassured that your baby is far too young to think like that.

If your baby is crying a lot and is fed on infant formula, friends or relatives may suggest you change this use medications or herbal preparations. You might like to talk to your doctor or Plunket nurse about this.

If the sound of your baby's crying changes or you think your baby may be sick, or have a physical problem, see your doctor or go to your local hospital.

If you are finding it difficult to cope, or find that you are not enjoying being a parent at all, try contacting PlunketLine or see your doctor for help and advice.

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