What Else You Should Know About Crying

Author: Ronald G. Barr, MDCM, FRCP(C)

Crying in the first months of life is usually unexpected by parents and very frustrating. We think that the most important things for caregivers to know are the typical features of normal crying, as described above and represented in the Period of PURPLE Crying. However, there are a few additional things that you may wish to know about crying.

"None of my other grandkids cried like this! There must be something wrong with him."

1. Don’t expect that everyone else will know about these typical crying features of normal infants. In fact, not many people know, for example, that an infant can cry five or more hours a day and still be a normal infant. Your mother, your neighbour or your friends might not know. It is more likely that they will think that there is something wrong with your baby, or with the way you care for your baby. If you take your baby to a health care professional who can check for diseases, and your baby has the crying characteristics that are described above, then you can feel much more comfortable dealing with the frustration of your babies crying for this early period of life.

2. Please be aware that there are lots of suggestions out there for taking various kinds of medications for this normal increased crying. While some of them may not be harmful, some of them are. There are no medications that are always safe for all babies.

3. Similarly, please be very skeptical of interventions that promise you a way to soothe your baby. Expecting that you can soothe a baby and then failing to do so can make you more frustrated.

4. The literature that offers advice to parents who are frustrated by their infant’s crying can be very misleading, even though it is meant to help caregivers. Very few make it clear that all soothing methods help some of the time, but no soothing methods help all babies all of the time. Whatever you do, try not to become more frustrated by your infant’s crying. The one thing that the parent advice literature most often fails to mention is that the only negative consequence of early increased crying for the infant is if the caregiver loses their control and shakes or abuses the baby. That is the most important thing for everyone, and everyone who cares for you baby, to know.