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Infant crying much of the day

  • 1.  Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-21-2017 04:31 PM
    We have a 6 month old baby who cries most of the day unless he is being held.  We have had success with some portions of the day where he is in different environments, different things and people to look at and with whom to interact but they are very short periods of time.  When mom enrolled him she told us "he's spoiled and you can't put him down" and we have tried to encourage her to try to do so at home like we do, but we aren't sure this is happening.  He is very big (overweight) and consequently a little harder to hold for periods of time.  We try to cuddle him, and check all of the usual physical culprits (hungry, wet diaper, restrictive clothing) but he is still crying to tell us something.  His doctor visits (physicals at 3 months and 6 months) indicate no "concerns" or special instructions. Mom's instructions for feeding were more than we typically feed a baby and communication took care of that (she was even placing stage 1 bananas in his bottle and presented a doctor's note for us to do the same - ??) so we've gotten him on a more normal/expected feeding schedule.  Looking for strategies to help with the crying, staff frustration that they cannot soothe him, and they feel they are being "judged" by anyone who comes into or near the infant room because he cries so frequently.  I know they are doing the best they can but I am looking for ways to support them more.

    Joan Dillon
    Executive Director
    Glassboro NJ

  • 2.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-22-2017 08:46 AM
    Do you have an infant swing or rocking cradle or anything that can provide vestibular stimulation? Depending on the child, this could help soothe him. I would also recommend a full developmental evaluation to rule out any medical, neurological, or other developmental issues. If you think the mother would be open to it, I would suggest parenting classes.

    Deborah Abelman
    Watertown MA

  • 3.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-22-2017 10:52 AM
    It might help if the parents & caregivers alike take a look at the website... What is the Period of PURPLE Crying? |

    If the baby is about 6 months old now, hopefully things will start to get better soon!!


  • 4.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-22-2017 01:03 PM

    I second the recommendations of the other contributors. It's important to rule out medical, neurological, or other developmental issues. There might be underlying sensory or other issues.  The Period of Purple Crying is an excellent resource as is the All Babies Cry website.  I'm curious about Mom's comment that her son is spoiled, and I wonder if she has had difficulty reading his cues.  It sounds like she might not have known how to soothe her little guy and used feeding as a way to calm him.  What do you know about Mom's pregnancy and/or the birth history and/or how things went in the early weeks at home? That information could provide clues about how the crying and the parent response began. Maybe the baby and his parents developed some patterns of relating that aren't serving them well.  There might be folks in your area who are trained specifically in early relationship challenges who could support the family if the crying doesn't begin to diminish soon.  There might not be a "quick fix".

    Here are links to some other resources that might be helpful for the baby's parents and/or the staff:

    CECMHC | Infant Toddler Temperament Tool (provides a way for parents to look at how their temperament and their baby's are the same/different and offers suggestions that support "goodness of fit")

    Early Development & Well-Being (This is a link to the Zero to Three website, which has excellent resources/information about development during the first three years, including information related to social-emotional development, temperament, self-regulation, etc)

    NJ-AIMH | New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health (Folks in the field of infant and early childhood mental health come from a wide range of disciplines and can offer resources and support to parents and to staff around early 
    relationships and social-emotional development)

    Have the baby's parents tried infant massage?  It might not make the crying go away completely, but it could offer them a different way to relate and connect with him. If they're interested, here's a link to possible instructors in NJ: Infant Massage USA - Find an Infant Massage Class


    Yvonne Hiebert, MSE, CEIM, IMH-E®

  • 5.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-22-2017 01:55 PM
    This is an area of personal interest, not professional expertise, for me, but your observation that increased stimulation (via change of scenery) seems to calm the baby made me think about research I've seen around indicators of giftedness in young children. I would love to hear from others with expertise in this area--in the meantime, regardless of whether this particular baby turns out to be gifted, it sounds like your team's instincts have led to a helpful solution to build on. Good wishes to all!

    Pamela Ehrenberg


  • 6.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-25-2017 03:53 PM
    I wanted to ask a few things. Without being there it is very hard to really give insight. 1) Does this child like an exersaucer or something where he likes to sit up and observe? 2) Does he sit happily in between a caregivers legs on the floor? 3) When someone has to be away from him does he calm down when you talk him through what your doing? I have seen where babies that cry often become more content when they can sit up and are really happy when they can move. Health wise, does he cry because of an inner ear problem, or a stomach issue? Reflux, allergy, etc? Someone mentioned in a comment about primary care giving, that might help, work on an attachment with one caregiver at a time if you can and build from there.

    Rhonda Perez
    Infant Toddler Specialist
    SAL Child Care Connection
    Peoria, IL

  • 7.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-28-2017 12:09 AM
      |   view attached
    I'm wondering if exposure to the outdoors might provide crying babies with sensory stimulation that indoor settings are void of. I, for one, know that every child I work with responds immediately to even looking out a window, let alone going outside, when they are upset.

    In response to Pamela, I conducted research focused on understanding how and why middle school teachers integrate place-based education into their curriculum, for my Masters in Education. My research revealed that social interactions are heightened when children are exposed to other environments than their classroom or school building. With heightened and often improved social interactions, between students, came an increase in student self-worth and empowerment. Teachers recognized that taking students outside the classroom, and school, was enough of a change to their routine, that the students were more engaged with each other, on a positive note.

    I haven't searched for research to support my this idea, but I'd guess that by building and maintaining relationships, at any age, feelings of safety and acceptance occurs, which I personally feel results in feelings of calmness. I've attached a paper by David Sobel, a passionate proponent of place-based education, and one of my professors during my masters work, that expresses the need for time outdoors, every day.

    Mary Russell
    Journeys Out Yonder
    Boulder CO

  • 8.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-23-2017 09:18 AM

    Hi Joan,


    You're right, his cries are trying to tell you something. Do you do primary caregiving? If he can attach to one staff person, that may help him through this time in his development.


    As for spoiling – have you read the latest research which supports the importance of responding to a baby's cries and holding them? I know the burden this will present to staff, but it's consistent with the care he's getting at home. I think he's too young to discern what happens at home vs what happens at child care.


    At 6 months, he may be ready for baby food/cereal especially if he's a big baby and the doctor has OK'd bananas. Is he sitting up yet? Try the high chair and spoon feeding. One feeding a day of rice cereal/fruit may satisfy him if that's what the cries are for.


    Hopefully, with added TLC and calm, quality interactions, he'll learn to trust his environment.


    Good luck,



    Patricia Cameron

    Sr. Technical Assistance Specialist

    Education Development Center

    Center for Early Learning Professionals

    535 Centerville Road, Warwick, RI  02886

    Direct: 401-734-1281

    Main: 401-736-9020


  • 9.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-26-2017 04:30 AM
    Purple crying is very helpful.  You might also look at Dr Harvey karps 5 ways to sooth a crying baby although he may be too big or old for some of these.  I think there can be heightened awareness of strangers and separation anxiety around 6 months too. Also check your environment.   Avoid fluorescent lights.  Go for soothing sounds from nature or the classicalternate music. Sing. Read. Say nursery rhymes. Let him watch your mouth....babies learn to talk in part by lip reading.
    With parental permission try giving him a warm bath if staffing, facilities and policies allow.  I find when a baby can sit up in a clean sink, on a towel for comfort and play with a trickle of water it can be remarkably soothing. Of course this takes 1:1 constant attention but it might be worth it to calm the crying in the environment. I agree with Piaget that little ones tend to be uni-dimensional thinkers so when he is intrigued he stops crying since there is no known physical cause.  Maybe try a buggy ride for a change of scenery.  Good luck

    Patricia Meritt
    Fairbanks AK

  • 10.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-30-2017 12:00 PM
    Here is a link to a video on "Period of Purple Crying"
    The thing I like about the "Purple Crying" theory is remembering that the adult also needs to be comforted.

    In some cultures infants are kept close to their mothers most of the day. I used a "carrier" that allowed me to carry my children in front when they were smaller and on my back as they got older and heavier.

    This child may be in a period of transition from being held much of the time to learning to self-sooth. It sounds like your staff is finding more and more ways to help the child through the process of becoming independent. They need acknowledgement for all their efforts and to be reminded that it is a "process" and will change with time.

    Linda Boss
    Lewistown PA

  • 11.  RE: Infant crying much of the day

    Posted 05-29-2017 03:45 AM
    I would recommend that you look at the conscious discipline/loving guidance website, or plan to attend a training.  While you hold the child, do the following:
    take a deep relaxing breath
    Say "you've got this!"
                           "I'm here for you!"
    You may need to repeat the breaths twice.
    Hopefully, this soothes the child until he can transition into another activity.
    Come up with a tummy time activity etc.   and please be consistent with the routine you create.

    Patricia Jack
    Boulder City NV