Huil Baby

What Are Cry Babies?

Caring for a cry baby can be tough on parents.

Experts usually identify a cry baby using the so-called rule of three: “the child cries more than 3 hours per day for more than three days a week for more than three weeks” (Barr, 1999).

The nursing diagnosis is derived from this definition and it reads: “A situation where an apparently healthy baby, periods of much crying, whining and irritability shows, for several hours a day, several days a week, where parents have questions and do not know how to deal with the baby’s crying behavior”(Buskop-Kobussen and Bruijns, 1996).

The normal crying duration varies by age. After birth, a baby usually cries for 1-1.5 hours. Around the sixth week, the baby can cry for about  2-2.5 hours. Eventually, crying time will average to 1.5 hours a day.

Dutch research has shown that on the average, 13% of infants (aged 1 to 6 months) cries at least one day a week over three hours

Babies with low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams) cry more frequently as compared to heavier babies (Brugman et al, 1999). Frequent crying occurs mainly in the first three months and it starts out as a normal cry.

Crying peaks around the age of 6 weeks (Rautava et al, 1993) This is due to the fact that a baby’s central nervous system is still immature. As a result, a baby easily cries due to external and internal stimuli. This may also explain why  premature babies cry more than full-term children.

There is a normal crying behavior and there is an excessive crying behavior. Although there are various definitions for cry babies, we find that the perception of parents on cry babies should be the norm. Although it’s very subjective, it’s a fact that one parent’s experience with a cry baby is very different from another parent.

In addition, a parent’s capacity to handle a baby who is crying excessively plays a major role. One parent is more likely to exceed the limit of the burden than another parent. That’s very possible most especially in a situation where a mother is dealing solely with several children and a crying baby as well.

Excessive crying can have a physical cause. Such is the reason why physiotherapists should be extra vigilant. Early (ostheopatische) treatment can prevent problems later in life.

Have you noticed any of the following symptoms  in your baby?

  • prolonged, excessive crying;
  • preferred position of the head;
  • change in shape of the skull, flattening on one or both sides;
  • poor and restless sleep (naps);
  • skew (opisthotonus) bifida;
  • an asymmetrical development hip;
  • asymmetrical movement of arms and legs;
  • bad head balance;
  • drink or suction problems (restless, greedy, uncontrolled, often choking);
  • reflux;
  • crying while dressing and undressing;
  • hair pulling at one particular place; and
  • cold hands and feet.

Mechanical forces during the birth process, together  with other external forces like an accidental fall that injures the infant’s head, could lead to a loss of motion in the upper cervical vertebrae. It could also lead to a clamping of nerves in the infant’s skull base.

The cranial bones of an infant consists of cartilage-filled spaces. These are known as fontanelles or simply soft spots. The birth process is easier, thanks to the soft spots. These allow the bones of the skull to move easily during child birth. However, the infant can temporarily end up with an odd-shaped head.

The fontanelles or soft spots eventually become a bone and development of fibrous joints follow. This is a critical development of the infant’s skull bones. The skull bones not only protect the brain, it also supports the sensory organs. Hence, the development of the infant’s skull bones is critical since various  senses like hearing, smelling, and tasting are highly dependent on it.

Light osteopathic treatment can have a therapeutic effect on the infant’s skull bones.

Up until the of age 4, a child’s brain has already undergone various stages of development. At the same time, the stimuli of the senses must be processed properly at this time.  If this is not the case, it can get very difficult for the infant.

It may confuse you as to why your baby cries a lot. You might  start to look into your baby’s health or nutrition. However, it might even confuse you more. In spite of the fact that you baby seems healthy and well-fed, the crying still persists.

For starters, you should listen carefully to your own feelings. Then talk to your family doctor and other experts.

Crying can still persist even after osteopathic treatments. This is the reason why experts should be working together.

A baby who is in pain cannot learn how to to sleep. So even when the  pain is gone, the baby will not sleep regularly. Hence, the parents will end up very tired. The baby does not need to be treated. Parents just need all the support, confidence, and reliable information to be able to deal with their crying baby.

As you read more information on crying babies, you will realize the effects can go beyond the psychological, physical and social areas. It is for that reason that you should be able to identify short term and long term problems.

In addition to differences in crying behaviors, it’s crucial to point out that both the infant and the parents suffer from fatigue. So within a few weeks after birth, the whole family can suffer from fatigue.

It is important to recognize fatigue immediately. If not, it may endanger lactation and eventually the bonding between the infant and mother.

Possible Causes of Baby Crying and Potential Effects

It’s important to know some of the causes and effects of a crying baby.

Here are some symptoms and causes for babies to cry.

Symptoms that may indicate a physical cause of the cry:

  • piercing cry with voice
  • crying all day
  • flow back nutrition, vomiting, diarrhea, or weight loss

Possible physical causes:

  • nutritional problems like spitting, cramps, or constipation;
  • infections like colds, inflammation, diaper rash, urinary tract infection, or diarrhea; and
  • Other causes like allergies, eczema, prematurity, birth trauma (e.g. broken collarbone.), immaturity of the central nervous system, hip dislocation, deviation in the spine, or breathing problems;

* Note: This is a list of examples, not an exhaustive list of the causes of crying.

No physical cause

Recent research shows that there was no physical cause of crying in 97% of babies in the hospital. (Nooitgedagt et al, 2005).

The cry should be considered as something a baby does as opposed to something a baby has.  (Barr, 1993).


A baby’s excessive crying and lack of sleep can have grave consequences.

Consequences for parents

  1. Physical effects

Structural sleep deprivation leads to the following:

  • concentration problems;
  • forgetfulness; and
  • constant stress, most especially if the crying happens at night; and
  • is a proven method of torture  .
  1. Emotional or psychological consequences

If your baby cries excessively, it’s hard to think that there ever will be a healthy sleep-wake pattern. Everyone has moments. Hence, everyone deserves to have some time to rejuvenate.

A crying child can spark the following emotions:

  • pity;
  • irritation;
  • anger;
  • fury;
  • impotency;
  • frustration;
  • depression; and
  • loneliness, to name a few.

You may also experience feelings of anger once you are deprived of sleep. This, in turn, causes you to get angry with your baby. Such emotion can leave you feeling guilty.

Exhaustion can trigger or even worsen depression worsen or even trigger. In most cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome, 95% to be exact, crying is the reason for the shake of the child (Pass et al, 2005). Shaking can cause serious damage to the brain of a baby. The damage caused by shaking, is permanent and can vary from mild symptoms to death. In the majority of SBS cases, 5 to 20 seconds of shaking have shown great damage to the infant.

  1. Social impact

Crying and fatigue can also affect your social life. If you are always exhausted, you will have a hard time sustaining your social obligations. Hence , every opportunity to sleep should be maximized. If you have to hire a babysitter, then do it.

  1. Other consequences

Prolonged sleep deprivation can have profound implications on the couple’s relationship. At the same time, it can also affect the other children as well. The following are grave consequences of sleep deprivation.

  • Tension and quarrels among family members;
  • Less need for physical contact; and
  • Sleep deprivation for other children.

With sleep deprivation, parents won’t have time to take care of themselves. Their self esteem and confidence will wane.

Everybody loses with a cry baby in the family. The parents and other children are all bound to end up in the losing end. At the same time the crying baby is also on the losing end, he or she is pretty much the victim in such an unfortunate  situation.  This can cause a lot of friction among the family members.

Here are a couple of quotes from parents of cry babies:

“I’m too irritated to even do something with my child. Sometimes I wonder if I love him. ”

“I’m afraid when I think of what I could do to my baby if he cries all night again.”

“My first child was crying a lot. When he was eight months, I was at wits’ end. We wanted a little brother or sister for him. So now, I am two months pregnant and honestly I can not enjoy my pregnancy. I feel depressed and guilty once and I’m not sure how to proceed.”

Parents will do anything to comfort a crying baby. Everyday is a challenge because nothing seems to help. So after a few weeks, parents tend to give up. The first few months can be very tough for the parents and if they don’t know how to handle the situation, it could endanger their relationship with their baby.

Consequences for the Baby

Physical consequences

Symptoms may be the result of a long and difficult birth or a very fast, powerful delivery. If these symptoms are left untreated it can cause the following problems:

  • Does not want to crawl;
  • Slow  development of gross and fine motor skills;
  • Has a hard time balancing himself or herself;
  • Has a poor posture;
  • Stumbles and falls;
  • Has speech delay;
  • Is always tired;
  • Wakes up with a headache;
  • Always has a headache; and
  • Can eventually have poor concentration in  school.

Other symptoms like forgetfulness, restlessness, and learning disabilities need a lot of attention from the parents.

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