It's not breaking news that babies cry -- a lot. But when it's your baby, in your arms, screaming for hours at a time, you can't help but wonder if something is terribly wrong. "For the first three months, every night at about 5 p.m., Gavin would get really fussy," says Tricia Heiserman, of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. "You couldn't put him down. It made me depressed because I thought I was doing something wrong."
Nearly all babies, no matter how placid, get downright cantankerous as night falls and the "witching hours" begin. "Inconsolable fussiness between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. is natural," says Benjamin Danielson, MD, medical director of Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, at Seattle Children's Hospital. This crying typically starts within the first two months, heightens between weeks five and eight, and is usually gone by the third month. While crying sprees are upsetting and inconvenient, they're entirely normal. Put your baby down for naps throughout the day to make sure he doesn't get overtired; if all else fails, try a walk outside, which many moms swear by for soothing cranky kids. You may be wondering if your baby has colic -- which Dr. Danielson says is a somewhat more intense version of the crying that most babies go through, and the same tactics that soothe a crying baby may soothe a colicky one.
And remember, it won't last forever. "Meredith cried for hours every evening from the time she was 7 weeks old, and we'd do anything to try and stave it off," says Caroline Warthen, of Greenville, South Carolina. "Then at 3 months, it ended, and all of a sudden we had a smiley baby."