Crying can be hard to handle for new parents, especially if the reason for the crying is unclear. Many babies are fussy, and late afternoon and early evening are common times for this behaviour. There are a variety of reasons why an infant may be unhappy at this time every night.
Infants are new to the world, and every experience requires processing. Every time their eyes are open they are taking in brand new information. By the end of the day, they have a full brain and may need to cry out some of their frustration, especially if they are in a loud or noisy environment. If overstimulation is the problem, a quiet, dark room may help, as could the soothing sounds of a fan or white noise maker.
Infants, though they seem to sleep all the time, aren't always good at getting themselves to sleep at night. If a baby gets overtired, it may even be harder for her to fall asleep, especially when she gets worked up and upset. According to "Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," by Marc Weissbluth, parents should look for signs of drowsiness in their baby and get the child to bed then, rather than waiting for the fussiness to start. When the baby reaches the overtired state, he may be irritable and cranky and harder to get to sleep. Bedtime should be a relaxing time of evening. Babies who take good naps during the day are also more likely to sleep well at night, so daytime naps are a good idea to make sure baby doesn't become overtired by evening.
Colic is an extreme form of fussiness. The Mayo Clinic defines colic as "frustrating periods of intense, inconsolable crying." During these crying spells, the baby may be nearly impossible to comfort. These are usually predictable and occur at around the same time every night for a period of days, weeks or even months. Typically, colic improves by the time the child reaches 3 months. There are no known causes for colic, and few treatment options are available, though doctors can help families deal with colic.
If a baby is consistently fussy during the evening, he maybe uncomfortable every night for the same reason, or it may be a variety of reasons, changing every night. He could be hot, cold, wet or hungry, and these complaints are easy to rectify. She also could have an upset stomach. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the mother is breastfeeding, a baby may become fussy after the mother eats foods that produce gas. Some young babies like to be swaddled, and may be fussy because they aren't. Others like to move around, and may become fussy when they are constricted. What comforts one baby may not comfort the next, and most parents use a trial and error method to find the source of their baby's fussiness.
That's What Babies Do
Babies cry. It's one of the things they do. However hard it is on parents, many babies have a fussy period in the evening for no good reason. It usually doesn't last long, and often there is nothing wrong with the child at all. According to Growing Families International, most babies have their own personal fussy time, often in the late afternoon to early evening. Parents can be comforted knowing that millions of parents are going through the same thing every day, and that babies usually grow out of this stage quickly.
- Growing Families International: Baby Crying and Nurturing
- Mayo Clinic: What to do When Your Newborn Cries
- "Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"; Marc Weissbluth; 2005