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Coping with a fretful and crying baby

Babies cry. They cry when they are hungry, they cry when they are wet, they cry when they are sleepy, and sometimes they seem to cry for no reason at all. And when they are unable to soothe their babies, most mums tend to get stressed.

Mrs Wong Boh Boi, Senior ParentCraft Educator at Thomson Medical Centre, comes to the rescue of new mums by sharing her knowledge and tips on how to soothe a crying baby.

Why do babies cry? 

Crying is a way by which a baby communicates his needs. He has this ability right from birth and uses it to communicate his needs for attachment with his mother, father and caregivers.

It can be very worrying for parents, as well as other people around the baby, if they haven’t got a clue what the baby’s needs are.

Babies can cry because of hunger, wind, over-excitement, tiredness or discomfort.

Understanding different types of cries can help you to understand your baby and be able to calm him down quickly.

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Golden tips on managing your crying baby

1. Hunger cry – usually loud, sudden and urgent; as he grows older it builds up to a demanding scream.

Manage it – feed your baby on demand, be flexible.

2. Loneliness cry – grizzles, then moans; if no attention is given soon, it becomes a frightening scream.

Manage it – respond appropriately. Leaving the baby to cry for a long period can have a strong impact on his level of security and support.

3. Wind in the tummy cry – short, shrill scream with pauses in between; other signs like bloated stomach.

Manage it – learn the various ways to sooth or calm the baby by adopting techniques involving movements, sound, swaddling, massaging, burping or even holding the baby in a still position.

4. Soreness or discomfort cry – whimpers at the beginning, gradually increasing to a loud cry. High-pitched and prolonged, usually comes with signs like fever.

Manage it – check and find the cause to see if there’s any discomfort caused by sore bottom, waistband of diaper being too tight for comfort, over-dressed or irritation caused by frilly clothing or irritable materials.

5. Exhaustion or over-tired cry – whimpers, whines, and gradually builds up to screaming with frustration.

Manage it – the baby is likely over-stimulated; adopt “still hold”, calm him down.

6. Teething cry – grizzles irritably with signs like chewing fists or drooling.

Manage it – give the baby a cold teething ring, rusk to bite, teething gel and gum massage.

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Concerns about prolonged crying 

Check and rule out other causes. Treat appropriately by using the above soothing methods of approaches.

If the cry is high-pitched and prolonged and the baby has one of the following signs, consult a doctor:

  • Baby has fever of over 38 degree Celsius,
  • Distended fontanel
  • Distended abdomen

Click on the next page to find out more about colic and crying and how you can soothe your baby.