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Crying, Age 3 and Younger

Crying plan

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​All babies cry. It is how they tell you they need something. A crying baby may:

  • be hungry or gassy
  • have a wet or soiled diaper
  • be sick or in pain
  • be lonely

Most babies have an intense period of crying that typically starts around 2 weeks of age, peaks around 2 months of age, and then gradually decreases around 3 to 4 months. But peak crying times can be different for each baby.​

All babies have periods when they cry more. This is part of normal development, and each baby is different. Sometimes babies can’t stop crying no m​atter what you do. When this happens, it is normal to feel frustrated, helpless, or angry. It’s more important for you to stay calm than to stop the crying.

Having a plan to cope with crying can help.

Here are some ideas you can try. Print this page so that you can add your own ideas and the phone numbers of people you know can help you.​ Share this page and tell everyone who helps care for your baby about your plan. And remember:​

  • It’s OK to ask for help.
  • Never shake a baby, for any reason.

My Crying Plan

​Ways to soothe my baby​

  • ​Check what my baby may need. Are they hungry, wet, hot, or cold?
  • Check with a healthcare provider to see if my baby is sick or in pain.
  • Feed my baby slowly and burp them often.
  • Change my baby's diaper.
  • Walk with my baby held close to my body or in a stroller. Many babies are soothed by motion. Rock or sway in a gentle, rhythmic motion. Try going for a car ride.
  • Entertain my baby. Try pointing out different objects in my home. Show my baby a mirror or book to see if a distraction helps.
  • Play soothing music.
  • Run the vacuum.
  • Gently massage my baby's tummy or back.
  • Snuggle my baby against my chest.
  • Gently rock my baby.
  • Sing, read, or talk softly.
  • Put my baby in a baby swing.
  • Give my baby a warm bath.
  • Encourage my baby to suck, like on a soother.
  • Turn down noise and light around my baby.

Ways to calm myself​

  • Take care of myself. Eating and sleeping well can make a big difference in how well people can cope. I can try to nap when possible and have snacks if I can't prepare a full meal.
  • Cry if I need to. Caring for a crying baby can feel overwhelming.
  • Gently put my baby where they will be safe, like their crib, and leave the room.
  • Close my eyes and take deep breaths.
  • Count to 100.
  • Listen to music.
  • Talk to someone about my feelings.
  • Call a friend or family member.
  • Talk to my partner to see how we can help each other.
  • Take a shower or bath.
  • Exercise.
  • Do housework.
  • Write down the 5 best things about myself.
  • Write down the 5 best things about my baby.
  • Do an activity or hobby like a crossword puzzle or reading.
  • Use positive self-talk like "I can calm myself" and "My baby knows I am trying."
  • If possible, arrange for regular childcare so I can get some rest. Find a friend, family member, or someone else I trust who has experience with babies. If trusted people offer help, accept it.

Whe​re to as​k for help

  • Call Health Link at 811 to get health advice from a nurse anytime, day or night.
  • Make a list of family members, friends, and support people who you can call if you need help. Have their phone numbers ready, like by adding them to your phone's contact list or keeping them on the fridge or beside your phone.​

Current as of: March 22, 2024

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services