How Much Crying Is Normal?

The Power of Preparation

Every new mom is bound to have days when nothing she does can soothe her baby. "It's just the way babies are," says Dr. Barr, "and it has nothing to do with being a good or bad mother." But this difficult period is easier to get through if parents are aware of how normal crying is. "We health professionals need to do a better job of educating parents about this fact," says Dr. Bernstein, who notes that an average baby's formula is changed three-and-a-half times, to no evident effect. There are as many remedies for crying as there are mothers: offering a pacifier, nursing, rocking, infant massage, burping, adding white noise, singing, and swinging. All of them work -- sometimes.

But the best technique is preventive. No, you can't actually avert a baby's crying, but you can minimize it. How? Respond immediately and try to keep her in constant physical contact with you for the first few months. The infants of the Kung San tribe in Africa, whose parents carry them continuously, cry half as much as Western babies -- that is, though they have as many bouts of crying, they are more easily calmed. It's not magic: Dr. Barr's research shows that when Western babies are held constantly, the result is the same -- half the crying.

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