One question we hear over and over again in our line of work is: Why is my baby crying?
Of course, there can be lots of answers to that question. But sometimes, frustratingly so, there is no answer to that question. And this is when we like to tell our clients about The Crying Curve.
The Crying Curve refers to a chart that maps out how many hours of crying infants do on average based on how old they are in weeks. And the evidence shows that the total hours of crying peaks at seven weeks. So if your baby is 4-8 weeks old, has really increased the amount of crying, and you find yourself wanting to divorce your partner because you just can't take it anymore, you are experiencing what we like to call "the Seven Week Itch." And you are experiencing something that is completely normal and that almost all new parents go through.
That's right: This is completely normal! You are not a bad parent and there is nothing wrong with your baby.
Most babies cry less in the first few weeks of life. So when the crying begins to increase starting around week 4, it's not unusual for parents to wonder what happened to their quiet, calm baby. But as you can see from the curve, that chill baby will come back, usually starting around weeks 10 or 11.
So, why is your baby crying more during this time? It's always good to start with the time-tested reasons: hunger, dirty diaper, or just plain tiredness. But there will be times when none of those reasons fit and you can't figure it out. And that's okay.
Inconsolable crying is very frustrating, but we hope you can take some solace in knowing that it is normal.
There will be days when you just can't figure it out and your baby seems to cry for no reason. On those days you just have to try your best to stay calm - go for a walk, put the baby in a carrier, listen to some relaxing music. Anything you can do to stay sane and relaxed for baby. And if you find yourself losing it, it's okay to step away for a few minutes and regain your composure. Your baby will be fine.
And if you have help or support during this time, use it. Rely on your partner more to take over the task of trying to soothe baby. Let family bring you a meal or take baby for a walk so you can have some quiet time. And remember - this too shall pass.
That's why the Crying Curve is such a great informational resource - it lets parents know what to expect and also to know that things will get better.
Just when you think you can't take it anymore, you will begin to notice less periods of crying during the day. And before you know it, you'll have a fun, delightful infant who coos and giggles and plays with toys. And the period of inconsolable crying will be behind you. Of course, the crying will never stop altogether (my kids are in elementary school and we still deal with crying), but at least it will become much more manageable.