A newborn crying throughout the night is alarming, exhausting and frustrating for parents. Most babies will stop crying if you comfort them, but if your baby does not respond to your attempts to soothe him, there may be an underlying problem. If you become too frustrated with the crying, always have a friend or family member intervene so you can take a break.
A newborn baby crying at night is usually normal. Fussing normally will increase two weeks past the due date and peak around six weeks, but the crying will decrease by four months. A baby cries to communicate his needs, and he may be having difficulty soothing himself to sleep at night. It’s also possible your newborn has night and day confused, so he sleeps all day and then stays awake crying for attention at night. Your baby also may be trying to tell you he is hungry, cold, hot, wet, bored or uncomfortable.
Colic is the reason for your newborn’s crying if he cries more than three hours per day on more than three days per week for at least three weeks. The cause of colic is unknown since babies that cry because of colic are thriving. It’s possible that milk intolerance is causing the excessive crying. Sometimes colic disappears if a baby is breastfed and the mother gives up caffeine or dairy products. Other theories associated with the cause of colic are improper digestion of food, GERD or your baby having difficulties adjusting to his new environment. Colic usually stops by three months. In the meantime, increase the number of times you burp your baby during feedings.
Your newborn crying at night may be his way of telling you he’s not feeling well. If your baby’s appetite has changed and the crying is inconsolable, these are not normal symptoms of colic. Diarrhea or having fewer bowel movements than normal both indicate a problem. Check your baby’s umbilical cord to see if there’s any bleeding, redness, swelling or oozing since these symptoms indicate an infection. If your baby boy is circumcised, check for the same symptoms around his penis. Always consult with your doctor if your newborn has a temperature, even if it’s a low-grade fever.
It’s impossible to spoil a newborn. You can soothe your crying baby by picking him up and either rocking him in a chair or walking around the house. A swing or bouncer also can soothe a crying baby. Decrease the amount of stimulation around your baby by turning off the lights and swaddling your newborn. If your baby is colicky, place him on his belly across your lap and rub his back. Softly singing or humming while holding your baby can help him relax. Breastfeeding also can offer comfort and help soothe your baby to sleep. If your baby is not responding to comforting techniques, consult with your doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if your baby is having trouble breathing, has blood in his urine or feces, has persistent vomiting or diarrhea or a recent head injury or you suspect poisoning.