Your baby’s tears

It can be really difficult when you have a crying a baby, especially since its a real guessing game to determine what they need. Crying is a baby’s way of communicating, telling parents that they need help. 

Crying is a normal and natural way for your baby to communicate with you. But your baby’s cries can make you feel overwhelmed, worried, exhausted and lonely. By crying, your baby is letting you know they need something. They don’t have words or gestures to tell you this, so they use what they do have – their lungs! The sound of their cries is designed to make you respond – it’s a clever bit of human engineering.

Over time you will work out what some of their cries mean and how best to respond. Sometimes you won’t know the answer but by just being with your baby in their distress you will help them to learn that big feelings can be manageable.

By around two months a baby’s crying reaches its peak and by around six months they will be more confident in finding other ways to communicate with you.

When and why do babies cry?
Babies cry because this is their only way to let us know that they need us and that something isn’t right. Some of the reasons might be:

  • They are hungry and need a feed.
  • They are uncomfortable and need to be burped.
  • They are uncomfortable and need to have their nappy changed.
  • They are tired.
  • They are feeling overwhelmed and need to be soothed.
  • They want a cuddle – it will help them feel more settled.

It’s important to remember is that a crying baby is not a misbehaving baby. They just can’t use words to tell you what’s wrong!

Crying is normal behaviour for babies and it will change with time. This article was written by child psychotherapists to help with crying and sleeping in the first months of life.

This picture shows the normal pattern of crying over the first months of a baby’s life. It is normal for there to be a peak of crying and this usually stops at 8 weeks. If you’re in the middle of this time, it will pass and you’re not alone.

Your mood can help your baby settle
It’s important to check in with your own feelings during this time. Finding methods to calm or soothe yourself – whether that’s having a bath, a cup of tea or just taking five minutes out – can help soothe your baby. Babies pick up on their parent’s states and if their parent is feeling wound up and stressed, it can be more difficult to soothe the baby.

Taking care of you when you have a baby

Further resources:
Cry-sis offer lots of information on their website, and have a telephone support line.

ICON offers information and resources for parents and for professionals

Understanding Childhood have useful online information, including a leaflet on crying and sleeping in the early months

Getting to know your baby videos on AIMH

BBC Tiny Happy People gives details of each stage of your baby’s development throughout their first year.

Brazelton Centre have great resources on understanding your baby’s behaviour and communication

Further support:
For every parent, the transition to parenthood, whether for a first baby, or for subsequent births, brings with it a range of feelings – excitement and hopes, as well as fears and worries, about what might lie ahead.

The practical and psychological adjustments take time to navigate, and these important changes in our lives can stir up powerful emotions from a parents own early experiences.

Research tells us that more than 1 in 10 mums and around 1 in 10 dads will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the first years. Many of these difficulties go unseen, undiagnosed, or untreated. It is important to seek help and support if you or your partner is struggling.

You can speak to your GP or Health Visitor.

You can also find some additional information, advice and further signposting from these organisations: 

AIMH – The Association for Infant Mental Health

Maternal Mental Health Alliance

The Parent Infant Foundation may have a team near you (39 UK locations)

Crisis Support:
If you or someone you care about is in crisis, or feeling suicidal and needs urgent help you can access support in the following ways:

Go to A&E at your local hospital

Phone emergency services on 999

Call Samaritans on 116 123 (free to call and will not appear on your phone bill), or email

Watch this short video for more information on your baby’s tears:

Video Transcript:

It can be really tough to experience your baby crying – especially when it’s a guessing game to figure out why.

Crying is how a baby communicates with us, letting us know they need our help. 

They might be hungry – a baby’s tummy at birth is the size of a teaspoon so they need to eat frequently.

Perhaps they’re sleepy, or need their nappy changed.

Or maybe they just want to be held.

It’s reassuring for a baby to know that you are close by.

The average baby cries for two hours a day, and crying peaks at around two months old.

Tending to your baby’s tears can be lonely, especially at night, but remember it won’t last forever.

If it’s all too much then it’s ok to put the baby somewhere safe and take a few minutes to yourself to calm down.

Babies pick up on your emotions, so taking care of yourself, and seeking help if you are feeling overwhelmed will help both you and your little one.

This video features Madeleine Jarratt, Family Support Co-ordinator at Home-Start Merton

This content has been made available from the Home-Start UK website