Monday, July 18, 2005

Why is my 3 month old crying inconsolably?

This is a question recently posed to me by one of my clients. Her baby is happy and fine during the day, and in the evening hours before bed cries for 1-2 hours until finally going to sleep for the night. She told me that recently there was a long discussion board topic on this at a site she visits. Apparently there are alot of tearful 3 month olds out there! So I did some research this weekend, and perused my memory to remember previous 3 month olds I've worked with that did the same thing.

The thing that stands out in my mind is that these babies are really just fine, and the crying isn't colicky crying. So why are they crying?

Turning 3 months old is alot different than when they were 2 months old - alot different. They're much more aware, more physically able and active. One theory is that they are overstimulated by the end of the day, and the crying is releasing stress. Tears that are from stress have a different chemical makeup than other tears! They really are releasing the stress horomones. "Having a good cry" really is a good thing!

If your baby is crying and crying, and you've done everything that usually works to soothe:
1)All her physical needs are met; she's not hungry, wet, gassy, there aren't any small threads wrapped around her tiny fingers or toes, etc.
2)It doesn't seem to be a painful cry, which you might associate with illness or colick
Then I would allow that she is indeed okay, and letting off steam!

What can you do?

-Make sure to spend lots of good contact time with baby during the day. Take a nap together, have skin to skin contact, or wear baby in a sling or other carrier while doing chores or errands.

-Try not to do too much during the day. Keep outings short and sweet, if possible. I know that with older children in the home this can be impossible. If baby is in day care, make sure that she's getting enough touch time, and isn't spending her day in a crib. That would make anyone tearful!

-Make sure day naps go well, get some sleep coaching if they're not. Babies who sleep well during the day usually sleep well at night.

-Explore your diet to see if there might be something you're eating that may be aggravating your baby's system.

-Maintain your cool. This crying is not about you, your parenting, or something you've done wrong. Baby needs to cry to feel better and be relaxed enough to sleep. Soon, he'll learn easier on the stress horomones ways to soothe himself - sucking on his fist, listening to your sweet mama voice, or watching lights and colors. Get support if you need it! Ask friends who've offered to help if they would come hang out with you during these tearful hours. Ask if the can hold the baby, or get yourself out of the house. It's okay to take a walk with a crying baby in the neighborhood.

This is temporary. It's a phase. It will stop. These are great words to repeat to yourself. When baby finally does sleep, make sure to take a long sweet drink of their peaceful face so you'll remember this sweetness the best.


At 10:21 PM, Blogger Marsha said...

Thank you! My husband and I have been stressing for the past week trying to figure out why our 3 month old baby girl is, all of a sudden, having these LONG crying spells in the evening before she finally goes to sleep, but is pleasant throughout the day. I will be happy when this does pass!

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Alex's mommy said...

Thanks so much for this article! I too was wondering what had happened to my sweet little baby going down peacefully at bedtime. He has no problem taking naps during the day and is so happy when he's awake and playing. Like Marsha said, I too will be happy when thi passes!!

At 2:22 AM, Blogger ooohlalai said...

Oh my! This article is really helpful. My husband and I have Been experiencing this for the past 3 days already. We were trying to figure out what's wrong with our 3 month old baby. Thank you for this information.

At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 3 month old son is the same way! His cry usually starts around 6:00pm and it can last anywhere from 20 minutes some nights and 1 hour other nights. He only takes half hour naps throughout the day so we're sure that he is overtired by this time but he fights his evening nap which usually starts this unconsolable cry!! I'll try to follow the advise in the article and keep my fingers crossed for him and everyone else who is experiencing this!! Good luck parents!!!

At 5:53 PM, Blogger MEF said...

thank you for this! I'm so glad to see that we're not the only family going through this phase. I'm hoping it passes soon! My girl had been doing consistent 5-6 hour stretches at night, followed by shorter (2-4 hrs) in between nursing through the night, and all of a sudden, 3-5 hr crying fits every night for the past week. It's heartbreaking!


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