Coping with a fretful and crying baby

Colic and crying

The cause of colic is usually associated with wind and can be evening colic. You will know it is colic if the baby has regular crying spell usually in the afternoon or evening or even at night after he is 2 weeks old.

The cause is unknown and the crying can stretch to a few hours and can often go into the wee hours of the morning.

Colic can be due to gas, indigestion or food allergies. Overfeeding or underfeeding can cause it too as they all impact his digestive system which is immature at this stage. The extra demands on the system causes muscular spasms in his gut and thus triggers the crying spell.

Should the crying baby always be picked up?

Some parents are worried about spoiling the baby by carrying him too much. The older generation advises parents to leave them in cribs, strollers or playpens and this may contribute towards more crying.

Parents need to learn to respond appropriately; it is not necessary to drop everything and rush immediately to the infant when crying is heard. The sound of the parent’s voice is usually enough to let the infant know that he is not alone and will help to soothe and reassure the infant that you will be by his side soon.

This also helps to teach the infant to be secure and patient, as the child will associate his parents’ voice with safety and comfort. The critical cut-off point for responding is about 90 seconds.


Ways of soothing a baby 

Try to stay calm, learn to respond to the baby’s different needs and help to meet his needs effectively.

Appropriate response is important during the early infancy period, as the baby’s feeling of sense and self depends on the carer’s ability to respond and sensitivity to the infant’s needs.

Attachment responses known as signaling behavior like anger, smiling or babbling are early responses to the proximity of parents, an indication that the baby feels protected and secure. All these responses occur when parents reciprocate the infant’s behaviour. A young infant is “wired” to his mother and will signal to her for attention and help when in distress. Parents perform the biological function of protection, and psychological task of providing security and thus attachment is formed, bridging the gap between the mental and biological worlds of the baby.

Here is how you can soothe a crying baby:


  • Rock gently, walk or dance with your baby
  • Cup your hand and tap him gently in your arms or on your thighs
  • Take him for a ride in the car, pram or sling


  • Talk or sing to your baby
  • Switch on the radio or television, play Nursery DVDs
  • Use musical toys


  • Wrap the baby firmly but not tightly


  • Do this after feeding, to reduce colic

Holding still

  • Hold the baby still for 5 minutes on either of your thighs

This article has been written by Mrs Wong Boh Boi, Senior ParentCraft Educator at Thomson ParentCraft Centre. 

She can be reached at:
Thomson ParentCraft Centre
(Opposite Thomson Medical Centre)
Blk 2 Balestier Road #01-671
Balestier Hill Shopping Centre
Singapore 320002
Tel: 6251 4090
Email: [email protected]