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Health & Parenting

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Crying, Age 3 and Younger - Home Treatment

Crying is a normal part of your child's life. Stay as calm as possible during crying episodes. There are many different ways to approach your child's crying, and over time you will understand your child's needs and know how to care for him or her.

It may be helpful to keep a record of your child's crying to see whether there is a pattern that you can discuss with your child's doctor.

Checklist of common reasons a child cries

Use this checklist to help you figure out the reason for your child's crying and take action to eliminate the cause of the crying. Remember that the crying may be normal for your child. Ask yourself whether your child:

  • Is hungry. Does he or she need to be burped? Does he or she need to suck (on a finger, pacifier, bottle, or breast)?
  • Needs a diaper change.
  • Needs to be moved to a more comfortable position.
  • Is afraid, bored, or lonely.
  • Is too warm (feels warm) or too cold. Young children usually have cool hands and feet. When they are cold, their hands and feet will be colder than usual. If you think your child may be cold, check the arms, thighs, or back of the neck for skin cool to the touch.
  • Is hurting from something pinching or poking the skin.
  • Is overstimulated. Crying can be a young child's way of releasing tension when there is too much noise, movement, or activity in his or her environment or when he or she is overtired.
  • Is uncomfortable from teething. Young children who are teething can be fretful and cry more than usual because their gums are swollen and sore. Children who are teething drool more than usual and may try to rub their gums with toys or fingers.
  • Had a recent immunization. If you think your child is uncomfortable from a recent immunization, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20.
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