Coping with a crying pēpi (baby)

All babies cry and some cry a lot. Crying is one of the ways they try to tell you what they need. Sometimes it is easy to work out what they want, and sometimes it is not. Here are some tips to help you cope with a crying pēpi.

Never shake pēpi

Never, ever shake a pēpi. Never leave them alone with anyone who may lose control. A single moment of losing control may damage a pēpi forever. Babies can die if they are shaken. 

If you ever think that your pēpi has been hurt, call 111. Do not let fear or pride stand in your way. It could save your baby's life. 

The KidsHealth website has a video called Power to Protect. This video is about how to cope with the stress of a baby's crying, and what can happen if a baby is shaken.

Power to Protect — KidsHealth (external link)

How to help a crying pēpi

Responding to your baby's crying will help them feel safe and secure.Your midwife or Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse will have lots of experience with crying babies. Talk to them about how to calm your pēpi. Here are some ideas.

  • Breastfeed or bottle feed them as they could be hungry.
  • Hold them or put them in a sling or a front pack as they could want to be close to you.
  • Rock them in their stroller or go out for a walk or drive as they have been used to lots of movement inside you when you were hapū (pregnant).
  • Play some music as they got used to low level background noise while you were hapū.

What to do when babies cry — KidsHealth (external link)

Colic or wind

When babies cry and cannot be comforted easily, the problem could be a sore tummy, or what is called 'colic' or 'wind'. Colic usually happens in the afternoon or evening or after a feed, and it can be very upsetting for pēpi and you.

No one really knows what causes colic and it usually disappears after the first 3 months. If you think your pēpi is crying a lot, talk to your midwife, nurse or doctor.

Crying can mean your pēpi is unwell

If your baby’s cry is unusual — such as piercing and high pitched — take them to their healthcare provider straight away (see danger signs). The back cover of your My Health book has a list of things to look for when you are checking to see if your pēpi might be unwell.

When your pēpi keeps on crying

One of the hardest times can be when your pēpi keeps on crying and you cannot work out why. If you find yourself getting upset, it is OK to put them down gently in a safe place, walk away and take a break.

Do not pick up your pēpi until you have calmed down. Your pēpi is more likely to calm down when you are feeling calm and in control.

Look after yourself. Make a cup of tea or coffee, or phone a friend or someone in your whānau.

For advice and support you can also call:

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