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Crying Baby: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Crying is your baby's first way of communicating with you. This is how they let you know about having a wet diaper, being hot, cold, or tired, or wanting to be fed. Teething, a recent immunization, constipation, feeling unwell, or a diaper rash can cause a baby to cry. Once your baby's need is met, and you calm and soothe them, the crying usually stops. However, some young children seem to cry for no reason. It is normal for a newborn to cry between 1 and 5 hours a day. Most babies cry less after they are 6 months old.

Caring for a baby can be stressful at times. You may have periods of feeling overwhelmed, especially if your baby is crying. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to help you stay calm and cope with your emotions when the crying does not stop. It’s more important to stay calm than to stop the crying. Remember, it’s never OK to shake a baby. Don’t pick up your baby until you feel calm inside.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your healthcare provider or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you or your child are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Learn the difference in your baby's cries. This will help you take care of your baby's needs, and the crying should stop.
  • Some babies have a fussy time of day. This can sometimes last 30 to 40 minutes at a time. Often this fussy time happens during the late afternoon to early evening, when they are tired and not able to relax. All babies are different. Give your baby extra attention during these crying periods. However, the crying may continue no matter how much comfort you give.
  • During periods of crying, try these ways to take care of your baby's needs.
    • Check to see if your baby is hungry, too hot or too cold, or has a dirty diaper.
    • Hold your baby to your chest skin-to-skin, while you take and release deep breaths.
    • Gently swing, rock, or walk with your baby. Some babies love to be taken for car rides or stroller walks.
    • Tell stories and sing songs to your baby.
    • Create a Crying Plan to help cope during periods of crying.
    • Try different holding positions.
    • Talk to your healthcare provider if your baby continues to cry for what seems to be no reason.
  • If your child cries at the same time every day, limit visitors and activity during those times to create a calm environment for them at home.
  • If your child appears to be in pain, look for signs of illness, such as a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or crying during feeding. Also check for an open pin sticking the skin, a red spot that may be an insect bite, a bruise, or a strand of hair wrapped around a finger, a toe, or penis.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about parent education classes or books on baby health and behaviour. Ask about what help or support is available in your community.
  • If your child has fallen or been dropped, undress your child and look for swelling, bruises, or bleeding.
  • Remember, never shake, slap, or hit a baby for any reason. Get immediate help from a healthcare provider if you or someone else has shaken your baby or if you are concerned that you or someone else might harm your baby.
  • If you are overwhelmed and feel that you might hurt your baby:
    • Gently place your baby in a safe place, such as a crib, and go into another room.
    • Breathe calmly and try to clear your head. Count to 10 with each breath. Don’t pick up your baby until you feel you are calm.
    • Call a trusted friend or family member to come over if you need more support.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you or your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your baby has been shaken or struck on the head.
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself, your baby, or another person.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away.

  • Call or text Canada's suicide and crisis hotline at 988.
  • Call Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 (4 p.m. to midnight ET).
  • Go to the Talk Suicide Canada website at for more information.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Call your healthcare provider or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is very cranky, even after 3 or more hours of holding, rocking, or feeding.
  • Your baby cries in a different manner or for an unusual length of time.
  • Your baby cries for a long time and has symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or blood or mucus in the stool.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your healthcare provider or nurse advice line if:

  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • Your baby has no symptoms other than crying, but you want to check for health problems.
  • Your baby seems to be acting odd, even though you are not sure exactly what concerns you.
  • You are not able to feel close to your newborn.

For more information on crying baby and other parenting information, go to Newborns: Sleeping, Crying & Everyday Care.

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