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I have read that crying increases cortisol levels and shrinks the developing brain.

I always try my best to respond to my newborn within 10 seconds of crying (actual crying, if she's just squirming, I give her the opportunity to self soothe first).

Anyway I do this for most of the day and night, but from 6 pm to 12 am everyday she cries inconsably.

The paediatrician diagnosed colic.

I just hold her and rock her but she will cry and scream until her face is red. I'm very worried about this.

Although caring for a baby with colic is exhausting for me, I'm more concerned about her - it breaks my heart to see her cry

  • 1
    This isn't an answer to your question, but to reduce crying I'd recommend "baby wearing" (ie carrying them around in a sling for many hours a day). Worked for our eldest who was a big cryer. See the Dr Sears website for more info. Get a soft fabric sling where they are held close to your chest facing inwards. Get them in the sling and go for a long walk - the closeness, the warmth and the motion is very soothing for them. – A E Oct 10 '15 at 7:13
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After a bit of Googling I found this Ask Dr. Sears article which talks about many studies that have been done related to the effects of crying on infants. I'll just try to sum it up here. Possible effects include:

  • Chemical and hormonal imbalances in the brain - growth hormone problems, changes in the brain similar to people with depression, possible ADHD, aggression, etc.
  • Decreased intellectual, emotional, and social development - lower IQ, problems controlling emotions
  • Harmful physiologic changes - problems sleeping, heart arrhythmia, blood pressure problems, etc.

All that sounds pretty horrible. However, almost every claim (and the article itself) was prefaced with (emphasis mine)

Science tells us that when babies cry alone and unattended, they experience panic and anxiety. Their bodies and brains are flooded with adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones. [...] Is it therefore possible that infants who endure many nights or weeks of crying-it-out alone are actually suffering harmful neurological effects [...]

It appears that it is connected to stress and not having the attention of a loving caregiver causes the most harm.

I'm no medical professional, but as long as you are trying to comfort and help your baby, you are doing the right thing. You are reducing the stress that they experience and any effects from that.

Also, as a side note, as a species our babies have been crying (at least a little bit) for thousands of years. And most of us turned out ok.

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Our first child had colic and it was the most frustrating thing in the world. Every night, from 7pm to 9pm, she was just inconsolable. After all of the internet remedies, nothing worked, just time. After 3 nights, it stopped. We were so surprised how much this improved her (and our) quality of life.

While there are many movements and schools of thought on everything from breastfeeding to comforting, I have not come across any definitive proof on the amount of crying.

Bottom line, babies cry. They cry for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, like with colic, there is no reason. They just want to cry. With parenting comes advice, which is sometimes wanted and sometimes not. My mother said that I was colicy and all that I needed was a little rice cereal in my formula. That did not work with my daughter. We never found a remedy. One night, she just didn't cry at 7pm. And it was glorious.

The best advice I can give is that it will pass. Oh and smart phones help! =)

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My second child was colicy. I was a Dr. Sear follower and completely agree with not letting babies cry. I parented that way with my first child. However my second child's colic was so distressing that I would become tense and she felt that in me when I held her and she cried harder some times. For her sake, and my own, there were times that I just had to lay her safely in her crib and let her cry. Usually I went and cried too.

She is now 21 yrs old, cheerful, has lots of friends, is finishing up a physics degree at university. She spoke in sentences at 15 months, was reading books at 4 yrs, and adult reference books at 6 yrs. She is a leader, and has been at the top of her class since she started preschool to present day. My point being, I don't think the time I left her to cry resulted in any of the harms that I'd been warned of.

So don't worry too much. We all do the best we can, and some times we can only do so much.

  • In light of the indicator that this was bad advice, I should mention that a colicky infant can create a lot of stress on the parent, particularly if they are alone and don't have a second adult present to take over. Placing your crying infant in a crib can be the best thing you can do to keep your child safe when you are at your wit's end. – Ruralife Oct 18 '15 at 6:56

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