Common childhood illnesses and wellbeing

Crying and colic

Understanding why

All babies cry, especially in the first few weeks after birth. Crying is their way of letting you know they need something or are uncomfortable. They may need changing, they may be hungry or just need a cuddle. Always burp your baby after a feed as this will help.

Look out for signs that your baby is trying to tell you they are hungry. Early signs are things like putting their hands to their mouth, becoming restless and stretching. By recognising these cues you may avoid hunger crying altogether and the need to calm baby down before a feed.


If your baby cries suddenly and often, but they otherwise appear to be happy and healthy, they may have colic. Colic is common and although uncomfortable it is not serious and usually affects babies only in the first few months of their lives. The most common symptom of colic is continuous crying, which typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening. Other signs include a flushed appearance, drawing their legs to their chest, clenching fists, passing wind and trouble sleeping.

You can also seek advice about excessively crying or sleepless children from the support group Cry-sis, which has a website (available at and a national telephone helpline (0845 122 8669).

GP says

Colic is a common problem and usually gets better by itself by six months of age. If your baby's crying seems different in any way (such as a very high-pitched cry or a whimper), then seek medical advice. Crying can sometimes be a sign that your baby is unwell. Trust your instincts - you know your baby best. If your baby is struggling to feed, develops a rash, or is not gaining weight, see your GP.

Health visitor says

You will know your baby best of all. Try to understand what it is they need. Finding out why your baby is crying is often a matter of going through all the possible options.

Things to check first are: 

  • Does their nappy need changing?

  • Could they be hungry?

  • Could they be too hot?

  • Could they be too cold?

  • Does their cry sound different?

These are simple things which could be causing your baby
to cry.


My baby is crying more than usual.


When a baby cries, it can be upsetting.


It is very important to stay calm and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do not shake your baby.