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Why does a newborn baby cry?
Kanchan Maslekar
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December 13, 2006

Part I: Just had a baby?

Your newborn baby is your topmost priority. You take all possible care to ensure she is protected and well looked after.

You are not being paranoid. Truly, a new born baby is extremely delicate; any mistake in handling the child can result in lifelong regret.

In the first of our three-part series on newborn care, we discussed feeding and bathing of the baby and her sleeping pattern. We will now talk about bowel habits, immunisation and handling the baby, and also about why a baby cries.

Bowel and bladder

Every time you visit your paediatrician, he is sure to ask you about the baby's urine and stools. This is because they are good indicators of the baby's health.

"It is also important to keep a watch on the frequency of the child's urine and the nature of stools. A few days after birth, the baby will pass dark green or blackish stool, which in some weeks will begin to turn yellow in colour," says Dr Sheila Bhave, consultant in paediatric research at KEM hospital, Pune.

"If your child is exclusively breastfed, it is perfectly normal for for her to pass from one or two stools a day to as many as 10 or 12 stools a day. The stools of a bottle-fed child are likely to be more regular," she adds.


"How will I know what she wants?" exclaim most new mothers. Soon, however, a mother begins to understand the different ways in which her baby cries. Most people urge the mother to feed the baby as soon as they hear her cry. However, a baby can cry for several reasons -- colic, aches, wet nappy, boredom, the need to be held, etc.

In due course of time, the mother will learn to differentiate between her baby's various cries and know if she is hungry or just needs to be held. It's important that the mother keeps a cool head when the baby is wailing. Shouting, screaming or getting nervous will make matters worse.

Baby's clothes

The section for newborns in garment shops are flooded with fancy baby clothes. However, when you buy clothes for a newborn, keep her comfort in mind. Baby clothes must be soft (made from cotton, preferably) without any fancy lace, zips or buttons that can harm her in any way. The same goes for the baby's bedding. Traditionally, many families prefer 'used' clothes; these are soft as a result of repeated washes. 

"Dress the baby according to the climate and in a manner that keeps her comfortable," says Dr Jyotsna Padalkar, a practising paediatrician. "Direct contact of woollen clothes with the baby's body must be avoided."


When you leave the hospital with your baby, you will be given an immunisation chart. It is necessary to administer the vaccines in the prescribed periods.

Some of the vaccines that need to given to the baby in the first three months include:

~ Polio dose
~ OPV 0, OPV1, OPV2
~ DPT 1, DPT 2
~ Hepatitis B-1, B-2


Dr Padalkar says there is no need for fancy toys at this stage -- simple, brightly coloured toys or a musical toy will do. Hang it in the baby's cradle/ crib and you will soon find her staring at the toy.

"Keep talking to the baby; remember, her learning process has already started. Tell her when it is time for a bath, or when you are going to take her out for a walk, so that she anticipates the change," says Bhave.


There are two options for diapers -- cloth and disposable. You may choose either, according to your preference.

Cloth diapers

These are softer against the baby's skin, less expensive than disposables and less harmful to the environment. They need to be washed separately with soap and disinfectant.
Disposable diapers

Disposable diapers have plastic liners that prevent any liquid from leaking. These diapers are available in different sizes and cannot be reused.

Handling the baby

Minimum handling of the baby is necessary to prevent infections. At the same time, the baby's mother should be encouraged to touch, talk and sing to the baby. This, like breastfeeding, helps in bonding, says Dr Padalkar. 

Supervise your maid; most maids are not trained to look after children and tend to have a lot of misconceptions. Make sure she knows the right way to handle your baby. Do not allow her to do anything you may not believe in -- like putting kohl (kajal) for your baby. Let her not make decisions for your child.

The newborn's fingernails should be trimmed about once a week, and his toenails once a month, to prevent him from scratching himself and others. The best time for baby's manicure and pedicure is after his bath, during his naptime.

Expose the baby to some fresh air. Depending on the climate, open a few windows in the room or take the baby for a small stroll. However, avoid taking the child to a crowded place. Do not give or allow anyone to give the baby any drinks outside. Also, avoid travelling with the child for at least three months.

Part I: Just had a baby?
Part III: What problems do newborn babies face?


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Sub: Misleading title

The title of this article is "Why does a newborn baby cry?" is totally misleading. On the topic mentioned, the article contains all but 7-10 ...

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