Navigate Up

Women's Center - A-Z Index

#
Y

Print This Page

Crying - excessive (0-6 months)

Alternative Names

Excessive crying (infants 0-6 months)

Considerations

Infants normally cry about 1 to 3 hours a day. It is perfectly normal for an infant to cry when hungry, thirst, tired, lonely, or in pain. It is also normal for a baby to have a fussy period in the evening.

However, if an infant cries too often it may be a sign of something that needs treatment.

Common Causes

  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Colic
  • Discomfort or irritation from a wet or dirty diaper, excessive gas, or feeling cold
  • Hunger or thirst
  • Illness
  • Infection (a likely cause if the crying is accompanied by irritability, lethargy , poor appetite , or fever -- consult your baby's health care provider)
  • Medications
  • Normal muscle jerks and twitches that disturb the sleep
  • Pain
  • Teething

Home Care

Home care depends on the causes. Follow your health care provider's advice.

If the infant seems constantly hungry despite short, frequent feedings, talk to your doctor or nurse about normal growth and feeding times.

If crying is due to boredom or loneliness, it may be helpful to touch, hold, and talk to the infant more and place the infant within sight. Place baby-safe toys where the child can see them. If crying is due to sleep disturbance, wrap the baby firmly in a blanket before putting the infant to bed.

For excessive crying in infants due to cold, dress the infant warmly or adjust the temperature. Typically, if adults are cold, the baby is cold also.

Always check for possible causes of pain or discomfort in a crying baby. When cloth diapers are used, look for diaper pins that have become loose or loose threads that have become tightly wrapped around fingers or toes. Diaper rashes also can be uncomfortable.

Take your baby's temperature to check for fever. Check your baby head-to-toe for any injuries. Pay particular attention to the fingers, toes, and genitalia. It is not uncommon for a hair to get wrapped around part of your baby, such as a toe, creating pain.

Call your health care provider if

Call your doctor or nurse if:

  • A baby's excessive crying remains unexplained and doesn't go away in 1 day, despite attempts at home treatment
  • The baby has other symptoms, such as fever, along with the excessive crying

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The doctor or nurse will examine your baby and ask questions about the child's medical history and symptoms. Questions may include:

  • Is the child teething?
  • Is the child bored, lonely, hungry, thirsty?
  • Does the child seem to have a lot of gas?
  • What other symptoms does the child have? For example, is there:
    • Difficulty waking up
    • Fever
    • Irritability
    • Poor appetite
    • Vomiting

The doctor or nurse will check the infant's growth and development. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the baby has a bacterial infection.

Updated: 11/12/2012

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com