All babies cry – although some cry a lot more than others and it’s not really clear why. Some can be particularly difficult to soothe and seem unhappy a lot of the time, even if they are healthy and developing normally. You can always get help if you are worried.

How to cope with a crying baby

Pick your baby up, talk to her and cuddle her as this can help with crying problems. Parents can get exhausted and upset by a baby who never seems to stop crying. If you’re getting very upset, you may find it helps to put her down somewhere safe or ask someone else to hold her and leave the room. Never, ever shake a baby, no matter how frustrated you feel – this is very dangerous. It could even be fatal.

Coping with a baby who always seems unhappy is extremely stressful, so try to make sure there’s plenty of support around – ask an understanding friend to hold her for a while or ask your health visitor or public health nurse about local sources of support. Remember that some babies do cry more often than others – it’s not clear why. As you and your partner get to know your baby better, you’ll begin to learn what different cries mean.

Some of these steps may help:

  • rocking, patting or gently rubbing your baby’s back, tummy or feet
  • giving more frequent feeds
  • carrying your baby in a sling – some like the closeness this brings
  • giving your baby a warm bath
  • getting a change of scene – going for a walk or a drive
  • it's never OK to shake or smack a baby. If you do ever lose control and shake a baby, get medical help straight away. Don’t delay. 

It’s important to trust your instincts too, so if you are worried about your baby’s crying, ask your health visitor or public health nurse to check her over so that you know that everything is fine. If there’s nothing wrong, you may just have to accept that this is the way your baby is. You’re not doing anything wrong, it’s not your fault and it happens to lots of people. Over time, she’ll become more settled. There are support helplines you can call (see Further help).

Baby massage

Baby massage is becoming increasingly popular. It’s just what it sounds like – gentle, soothing touch which should have benefits for you and your baby. 

Research suggests that skin-to-skin contact with your baby can help her thrive. It can also help you become more confident as a parent. You can start from birth - but don’t do anything your baby doesn’t like.

Depending on the part of Scotland you live in, your NHS board may offer you the Play@Home books. The first in the series offers a very good section on baby massage with useful diagrams. Your midwife or health visitor/public health nurse can give you details of baby massage classes in your area.


Play@home is a programme that encourages the development of movement and coordination and helps you and your baby to build loving family relationships through shared activities.

The programme grows with your baby’s development and gives you month-by-month ideas for playing with your baby and details about baby massage. play@home books are available free to all parents in Scotland and your health visitor will give you your baby book soon after your baby is born. They will also be able to give you details of baby massage classes and Bookbug/Bounce and Rhyme groups in your area.

– but don’t

do anything your baby doesn’t like. Use natural

oils (grapeseed or almond oil). Essential oils can

cause severe irritations or allergic reactions and

should be avoided.

Last Updated: 02 October 2017
We use cookies to help improve this website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue. Don't show this message again