Crying Babies: What’s Normal and What’s Not


Learn What to Expect From Your Baby

This week, I noticed a post shared in many birth groups about infant crying. Researchers and writers publish articles on this topic frequently. The article discuses how African babies rarely cry. In many cultures in Africa, practices such as frequent baby wearing and breastfeeding support the growth and development of babies. Sociologists note that these practices greatly contribute to a baby’s calm and peaceful state.

Many American families also note that practices such as baby wearing and breastfeeding on demand support their baby’s well-being. I use these techniques to soothe my babies all the time. I find them highly effective. Also, these practices are part of the parenting style called attachment parenting.

For the most part, the methods of attachment parenting have helped my babies by reducing crying and distress. However, I also have experienced the struggle of parenting a high-needs baby. A crying baby is incredibly stressful for parents. Parents want to do everything they can to soothe and calm their baby.

Non-biased Postpartum Support

As a postpartum doula, part of my work is to help support parents in learning what is normal and what is abnormal. Firstly, part of this work includes helping parents decipher their baby’s cries and learn if they are in the range of normal. They want to know if they should be concerned about their baby’s crying. Families frequently ask, “Is it normal for my baby to cry this much?”

Also, a major part of the work of a doula is to provide non-biased support to families. I strongly believe that we need to build strength and confidence in parenting.

You Are A Rock Star – Even if Your Baby Cries!

I find that many of these articles suggest that parents must be doing something very wrong if their babies cry. The authors are suggesting that simply putting your baby in a wrap and breastfeeding will make your baby magically peaceful. If you’re not doing these things, you’re not parenting correctly. But what if you have tried all of these things, and your baby still cries? And they cry A LOT?

There is nothing wrong with your parenting if your baby cries sometimes. You’re not a bad parent if your baby is fussy. You are doing your BEST and you are doing an AMAZING job! Parenting a baby who cries frequently is THE HARDEST and requires intense dedication and commitment. YOU ROCK! You are doing your best.

When is crying normal?

Firstly, babies often go through periods of development, called leaps, that may cause them to become fussier and cry more. Crying during a period of rapid development is normal. Also, babies may cry more during certain times of the day. For most babies, this happens in the evening hours. Babies can become fussy if they are overtired, overstimulated, cold, warm, etc. Crying is communication. Don’t be afraid. Listen to your baby and work to meet their needs to the best of your ability. Do whatever works for you and your baby. Babies cry to have their needs met, and that kind of crying is normal.

When is crying abnormal?

Crying may be abnormal for many reasons. Sometimes, babies can have health problems or reflux that causes them discomfort. This discomfort causes them to cry more than other babies. Sometimes babies cry because of feeding struggles, digestive issues, or other more specialized needs. If your baby’s crying and fussiness doesn’t ease at the end of a leap, interferes with their overall well-being, or goes beyond their typical fussy period, it is best to check in with your pediatrician. Go with your gut.

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