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My 3.5 months old baby suddenly cries very hard. A little bit of background:

  • The baby is currently 3.5 months old
  • Her fussy hour started at 1 month and tapered down when 2 months old
  • In the past fussy hour, she would cry but can be easily be comforted by holding her or feeding her
  • At 1.5 months she had a routine where she would normally bath at 9:30, follow by a feed. She slept at around 11 PM.
  • She slept till 5 AM at 2 months and 8 AM shortly after that.
  • We never used any sleep training.
  • The baby seems to be progressing normally. She coos a lot and just learnt to roll herself one way.

She was behaving so well in the last month but things suddenly change:

  • Started a week ago she will cry till her face is red, usually started at 8PM and can last for 1-2 hours.
  • It seems that she will just wake up from her evening nap and starts full-blown crying. This is different from her normal crying since she always show some warning sign:
  • We tried all the obvious routes - feed, change diaper, hold her quietly, play soft music, dim light, no light etc. The only thing that MAY work is hold her and move the body side way.
  • Getting her to bath when she cries doesn't work. She is very tense and makes undressing/dressing a nightmare. She does calm down in water but will resume crying within a few minutes when moving out.
  • We also tried moving the bath time early and reduce her day time activity to prevent overtiring, but that doesn't help.
  • I thought about her being colic, but it doesn't seems like it. We tried bicycle kicks and doesn't work. Mom is/has been already avoiding all gassy food.
  • There is no diet or environmental change.
  • After crying for 1-2 hours she will suddenly decide to stop crying and fall to sleep. Then she would wake up shortly after and cry again, but she can be easily calmed down this time. After one or two more feed she would sleep.
  • The doctor couldn't find anything wrong.
  • Have you read about colic (please note colic is most common in the evenings)? Does it sound similar? If not, how is it distinct from colic? – anongoodnurse Dec 2 '17 at 17:40
  • A week seems like a long time now, but in the long run, it's not. It's very likely that your baby will change its behavior in the next week no matter what you do. That's just how infanthood is. – swbarnes2 Dec 4 '17 at 21:06
  • Babies will often be uncomfortable and even run a fever when they start teething. 3.5 months is a little early but not unheard of (text books say 4 to 7 months is normal). If the doctor says everything is normal then by all means keep an eye on it but don't get over worried yet.. – pojo-guy Dec 7 '17 at 2:27
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I may not be the best to answer this since I have a baby only less than a month old but I'm currently reading the book The Wonder Weeks, and it claims that babies get fussy pretty much periodically whenever they reach a development milestone.

Even if it is hard for parents, this is perfectly normal and unrelated to physical pain but just because they grow and learn more about the world and feel insecure or confused and need to be comforted.

The milestones are just a few weeks apart and last for days or even a week but slowly get less frequent over time but will keep happening pretty much until puberty and even beyond.

The colics are just the first couple of these fussy periods that happen at about 5 and 8 weeks of age, and around 3-4 months there are a couple of these as well.

  • Hi Christian, and welcome to the site. Can you give a source for colic that supports your answer? Or that babies get fussy with every milestone? We accept a lot of opinion here, but when stated as facts, we love sources! :) In any case, welcome! :) – anongoodnurse Dec 2 '17 at 17:42
  • Hi and thanks for the warm welcome.I was referring to a book, you can see the author's website at thewonderweeks.com – Cristian Măgherușan-Stanciu Dec 2 '17 at 20:35
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    I understand that you have used the book as a source, but we don't have the book in front of us. If you could quote the relevant passages/those that support your answer, that would improve your answer significantly. :) – anongoodnurse Dec 2 '17 at 22:08
  • I can't find any exact quotes from it in the Internet, but the book's website has a lot of free video content in which the author explains all this: thewonderweeks.com/wonder-weeks-videos – Cristian Măgherușan-Stanciu Feb 2 '18 at 20:12
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My babies (I had four) had similar changes at the same age. Turned out they were exceptionally early in their teething... It hurts long before it gets out. We had a hard time 3-8 months but then they were mostly fine. They all had at least 7 teeth out at 11 month.

On how to ease the pain it depends on the kid. Tamarind sirup can help. A bit of snuggling might go a long way. For one of them nothing worked. Remember the crib is a safe place ...

  • I thought about it - why would teething only cause pain and crying in the evening but not during the day? – elty123 Dec 11 '17 at 14:27
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    @elty123 Precisely, teething is basically a "growing pain" and growth in humans usually happens at night. One of my sons (not the same) also need to go pee at least once during the nights and lately he complained about leg pains when he got up that he would not have been conscious of if he did not awake. The doctor said it was likely growth pains. – cmbarbu Dec 12 '17 at 18:49
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I just want to answer my own question.

Initially the crying is non controllable - I will just call it "unconscious crying". It would appear that the baby is crying and sleeping at the same time. Her eyes remained closed and did not really respond to anything. Once she started opening her eye (after an hour of crying), she became consolable. This phase last 3 weeks or so.

Afterwards it is about 2 weeks of "conscious crying". Her eyes would opened shortly after she started crying. She was able to recognize parent, and prefer mom over dad. She needed to be cuddle in a specific position or she will cry. After awhile she would fall into sleep again. Putting her in crib might wake her up.

After 5 weeks this suddenly stop. She is now able to transition from "sleeping" (or perhaps "napping" is more appropriate) to "crying" to "awake" in a very short time. After waking up she is still a bit cranky but will behave normally and eat before finally going to sleep an hour later.

We didn't really find out the cause. One thing we did was to let her nap in a room without light turn off (it was only dim half way) hoping she can transition from nap to awake faster. We did not know if it actually helps.

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