Infants - excessive crying; Well child - excessive crying
Crying is an important way for infants to communicate. But, when a baby cries a lot, it may be a sign of something that needs treatment.
Infants normally cry about 1 to 3 hours a day. It is perfectly normal for an infant to cry when hungry, thirsty, tired, lonely, or in pain. It is also normal for a baby to have a fussy period in the evening.
But, if an infant cries too often, there might be a health problem that needs attention.
Infants may cry because of any of the following:
Home care depends on the causes. Follow your provider's advice.
If the infant seems constantly hungry despite short, frequent feedings, talk to your provider 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 of the room. If adults are cold, the baby is also likely cold.
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.
Contact your child's provider if:
The provider will examine your baby and ask about the child's medical history and symptoms. Questions may include:
The provider will check the infant's growth and development. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the baby has a bacterial infection.
Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, Schuh AM. Crying and colic. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, Schuh AM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 11.
Onigbanjo MT, Feigelman S. The first year. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 22.
Pomeranz AJ, Sabnis S, Busey SL, Kliegman RM. Irritable infant (fussy or excessively crying infant). In: Pomeranz AJ, Sabnis S, Busey SL, Kliegman RM, eds. Pediatric Decision-Making Strategies. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 10/22/2022
Reviewed By: Charles I. Schwartz MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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