Here’s some newborn-themed math for you: newborn babies sleep 14-16 hours per day. That means most newborns are awake for just 8-10 hours each day. And guess what the average newborn spends 1-2 hours of that awake time doing?
All that crying is understandably stressful to parents, especially because it can be difficult to decode. Crying is one of your newborn’s primary means of communication, true, but you are not fluent in his language, and that makes it hard to know exactly what his cries mean.
5 Reasons Your Newborn Cries
- Your newborn is hungry. This is probably the most obvious cause for your baby’s cries. Newborns need to feed every 2-3 hours (and should never go longer than 4 hours without a feeding), but some newborns may need to eat even more frequently. During a growth spurt, for instance, or during an illness, your newborn may need to eat every hour or two.
- Your newborn is uncomfortable. The list of discomforts is long — your newborn may be too hot or too cold, his diaper may be wet or dirty, her onesie may have an itchy tag, or he may be gassy and bloated.
- Your newborn is overstimulated. This reason isn’t always obvious to parents, but the fact remains: your newborn can quickly become overstimulated by her environment. Loud noises, bright lights, and lots of activity can overwhelm your newborn.
- Your newborn is overly tired. Newborns become overly tired very quickly. And once a newborn is overtired, it becomes very hard for her wind down and fall asleep. Your baby will become fussy when she starts feeling sleepy, and may rub her eyes or yawn. But very quickly, her fussiness will escalate into full crying and then screaming as she becomes overly exhausted. By that point, it’s impossible for your newborn to fall asleep without first being soothed by you.
- Your newborn is in the ‘4th trimester’. During the first 3 months of life, your newborn’s brain is developing rapidly. So much brain development happens during that period, in fact, that Dr. Harvey Karp (author of The Happiest Baby on the Block), urges parents to think of it as a 4th trimester! All that growth and change, says Karp, can lead to lots of inconsolable crying.
Other Reasons Your Newborn Cries
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course; your baby may cry for a variety of other reasons, including:
- Dairy allergies
- Oversupply of mom’s breast milk
- Tongue-tie (a slight malformation of the tongue that makes nursing and bottle feeding difficult)
If all of these reasons have been ruled out, then it could simply be your baby’s temperament and maturity that are causing the crying. Some babies simply have a more difficult time adjusting to the outside world. Transitioning between states is very difficult to them. These babies need soothing, consistent routines, loving interaction and LOTS and LOTS of physical contact including skin-to-skin contact.
In the early days after birth, it can be difficult to interpret your baby’s cries. But rest assured that as your baby grows, you’ll learn her crying patterns, and it’ll become easier to determine why she’s crying and what you can do to comfort her. Before long, you’ll be speaking your baby’s language fluently!
Newborn Baby Sleep Help That Works
Need help encouraging your newborn to sleep better, and to sleep longer stretches at night and during the day? We have a great resource designed to do just that. Check out Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep, the latest e-Book from The Baby Sleep Site®. Available in PDF format as well as a variety of e-reader formats, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is the tired parents’ #1 newborn resource. Developed by Nicole and Miriam (a lactation consultant, nurse, and Baby Sleep Site® sleep consultant), Essential Keys lays out everything you need to know about helping your baby to sleep better right from the start. It also includes information on feeding (both breast and bottle), baby communication, bonding with baby, daily routines, sample sleep schedules, and more. Download your copy today!
Or, if you are interested in personalized, one-on-one help for your newborn, why not consider one of our personalized sleep consulting packages? Our consultations allow you to work directly with one of our expert sleep consultants, and to get a Personalized Sleep Plan® that will work for your family.
First, browse our extensive list of package options and select the one that looks best for your situation.
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!