Why Is My Baby Crying?

It can be helpful to understand what your baby’s crying means and how you can soothe your baby when they’re upset.


All babies cry. It can often be difficult to hear your baby upset but crying is one of the ways your baby will communicate that they need something. They aren’t being naughty by crying.

Babies need to be comforted when they are upset and they won’t develop bad habits by being calmed, soothed and held.

Sometimes it can be challenging to work out what your baby is asking for but soon you will get to know them and become more aware of what their different cries and sounds mean.

A baby may cry because:

  • They’re hungry.
  • They’re tired.
  • They need a nappy change.
  • They’re too hot or too cold.
  • They want to be close to you.
  • They have wind.
  • They’re unwell or in pain.
  • They have an emotional need, such as anger, frustration, fear, loneliness or overstimulation.

You can try to help your pēpi by:

  • Breastfeeding your baby when they show hunger signs, such as rooting, bringing their hand to their mouth, sticking out their tongue, making sucking/smacking sounds, or sucking on their hand or fingers.
  • Breastfeeding your baby on demand, meaning as and when your pēpi is hungry and for however long they want to feed, day or night.
  • Settling your baby to sleep.
  • Being aware of your baby’s tired signs. See Normal Newborn Sleep for a list of what to look for, as well as Settling Techniques for Newborns for our advice on newborn sleep and settling.
  • Holding your baby skin-to-skin.
  • Burping them regularly after feeds or in between switching sides when breastfeeding.
  • Wearing your baby in a front pack carrier or sling.
  • Taking your baby for a walk in their pram.
  • Changing your baby’s nappy once soiled.
  • Ensuring your baby is dressed appropriately and that their clothing isn’t too tight. See How to Dress Your Newborn Baby for advice on dressing your baby for each season.
  • Playing white noise or singing a lullaby.
  • Swaddling your baby.

If your baby is still crying and you’re finding it upsetting or frustrating, it’s okay to put your baby down somewhere safe, walk away, and take some deep breaths while you have a break. It is never, ever okay to shake or hit a baby. Phone a friend or someone in your whānau for help if your baby keeps crying.

If you think your baby is unwell or in pain, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or take them to a doctor straight away. If you think your baby has been hurt, call 111. See Baby and Child Danger Signs for other warning signs that you need to call 111.