Crying Baby: Care Instructions

Skip Navigation

Your Care Instructions

Crying is your baby's first way of communicating with you. This is how he or she lets you know about having a wet diaper, being hot or cold, or wanting to be fed. Teething, a recent shot, constipation, or a diaper rash can cause a baby to cry. Once your baby's need is met, the crying usually stops. However, some young children seem to cry for no reason. It is normal for a newborn to cry between 1 and 5 hours a day. Most babies cry less after they are 6 weeks old.

Caring for a baby can be stressful at times. You may have periods of feeling overwhelmed, especially if your baby is crying. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you cope with your emotions when the crying just does not stop. Then you can be with your baby in a loving and healthy way.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Learn the difference in your baby's cries. Then you can take care of your baby's needs, and the crying should stop.
    • Hungry cries may start with a whimper and become louder and longer.
    • Upset cries may be loud and start suddenly.
    • Pain cries may start with a high-pitched, strong wail followed by loud crying.
  • Some babies have a fussy time of day, often for 2 to 3 hours during the late afternoon to early evening, when they are tired and not able to relax. Try to give your baby extra attention during these crying periods. However, the crying may continue no matter how much comfort you give.
  • If your baby cries for an hour or more, try these ways to take care of his or her needs or to remove yourself from the stress of listening.
    • Check to see if your baby is hungry or has a dirty diaper.
    • Hold your baby to your chest while you take and release deep breaths.
    • Swing, rock, or walk with your baby. Some babies love to be taken for car rides or stroller walks.
    • Tell stories and sing songs to your baby, who loves to hear your voice.
    • Let your baby cry alone for a few minutes if his or her needs are taken care of and he or she is in a safe place, such as a crib. Remove yourself to another room where you can breathe calmly and try to clear your head. Count to 10 with each breath.
    • Talk to your doctor if your baby continues to cry for what seems to be no reason.
  • If your child cries at the same time every day, limit visitors and activity during those times.
  • If your child appears to be in pain, look for signs of illness, such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or crying during feeding. Also check for an open pin sticking the skin, a red spot that may be an insect bite, or a strand of hair wrapped around a finger, a toe, or a boy's penis.
  • Talk to your doctor about parent education classes or books on baby health and behavior.
  • If your child has fallen or been dropped, undress your child and look for swelling, bruises, or bleeding.
  • Never shake, slap, or hit a baby.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you or your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your baby has been shaken or struck on the head.
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself, your baby, or another person.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to for more information or to chat online.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is very cranky, even after 3 or more hours of holding, rocking, or feeding.
  • Your baby cries in a different manner or for an unusual length of time.
  • Your baby cries for a long time and has symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or blood or mucus in the stool.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • Your baby has no symptoms other than crying, but you want to check for health problems.
  • Your baby seems to be acting odd, even though you are not sure exactly what concerns you.
  • You are not able to feel close to your newborn.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter M078 in the search box to learn more about "Crying Baby: Care Instructions".

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.