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);
- 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.