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"My Baby Cries Constantly"

Q. My 2-month-old cries a lot. Will she be crankier than other kids who don't cry as much now?

A. Put your fears to rest. By and large, the research shows that young babies who are fussy are not more likely to grow up grouchier than their peers. So what's behind all those tears?

  • Some babies' central nervous systems are more sensitive and reactive to incoming stimulation from the outside world. As they mature within the first four months, they usually become better able to handle the many sights and sounds they're rapidly encountering.
  • If your infant also spits up a lot, or regularly pulls away during feedings, often stretching and turning her neck, gastroesophageal reflux disease may be making her irritable. GERD is a complication of frequent reflux -- stomach acids backing up into the esophagus and sometimes out of the mouth. Talk to her doctor if you suspect GERD.
  • She may have colic, continuous crying for more than three hours, three days a week during the first three months. Although its definite cause is unknown, colic will go away and won't harm your baby's development or demeanor.
  • Whatever the cause of your child's crankiness, it's important to find ways for both you and her to cope. If nothing works to soothe her, put her down for 5 to 10 minutes. She (and you!) may need a total break from stimulation -- the rocking, singing, and talking -- to calm down.

Claire Lerner, LCSW, is a child development specialist at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit promoting the healthy development of babies and toddlers (zerotothree.org).

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.