Crying Child and Possible Abuse

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A child's crying can be very upsetting, especially when you are trying to figure out what the cause is. If you can't find a cause for the crying, such as an injury, try comforting techniques. These include using a pacifier and rocking your baby gently. If your child is still crying after you've tried home treatment, place your child in a safe, quiet place and leave them alone for 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes children can relax and soothe themselves. Be sure to stay close by.

Crying is a normal part of your child's life. Stay as calm as you can during crying episodes. There are many different ways to approach your child's crying. Over time you will understand your child's needs and will know how to care for your child.

What should you do if you get upset with your crying child?

Stay as calm as you can, and remember that crying is a normal part of your child's life.

Never shake or harm your child. Shaking a child in anger or playing rough, such as throwing your child into the air, can cause an injury to the brain. Abusive head trauma needs to be reported to your doctor.

If you find that you are losing patience or are afraid that you may hurt your child:

  • Place your child in a safe place while you go into another room, relax, and calm yourself.
  • Ask someone to help you. If you can't find someone to take over for you and you still feel out of control, call your doctor.

If you are concerned about your parenting abilities, contact people or organizations that can help you find places to learn parenting skills. You can contact:

  • Your child's doctor.
  • A local hospital.
  • National parenting organizations, such as Prevent Child Abuse America. Visit to learn more.

What should you do if you think your child has been abused?

If your child has had an injury that you think may have been caused on purpose (abuse), seek help. You may feel uneasy talking to your doctor about the issue of abuse. But health care providers have a professional duty and legal obligation to check for possible abuse. It's important to consider this possibility, especially if there were no witnesses to the injury. If you think that your child has been abused, call your doctor or contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453. You can also go to for information.


Current as of: October 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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.