Crying Child >3 Months Old (Irritability/Fussiness)
- Excessive crying, irritability or fussiness
- Child is too young to tell us or show us the cause for his crying
- Main cause: coming down with an illness
- Other common causes: overtired, stressed, whining, tantrums, separation anxiety, pain (teething generally doesn’t cause crying)
See More Appropriate Topic
- If Fever or any symptom of illness, see that topic
- If crying from an injury, see specific TRAUMA topic
Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Stiff neck or bulging soft spot
- Possible injury (especially head or bone trauma)
- Very irritable, screaming child for > 1 hour
- You are afraid you might hurt your baby
- Your child cannot be comforted after trying for > 2 hours
- Crying interferes with sleeping for > 2 hours
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 and 4) If
- You think your child needs to be seen
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
- You have other questions or concerns
- Low grade, off-and-on fussiness (acts normal when not crying) continues > 2 days
Parent Care at Home if
- Mild fussiness present less than 2 days and you don’t think your child needs to be seen
Home Care Advice for Mild, Consolable Crying
- Reassurance: Most infants/toddlers become somewhat irritable and fussy when sick or overtired. Crying tells us your child is not feeling well. If the crying responds to comforting, it’s probably not serious
- Comforting: Try to comfort your child by holding, rocking, massage, etc.
- Sleep: If your child is tired, put him to bed. If he needs to be held, hold him quietly in a horizontal position or lie next to him. Some overtired infants need to cry themselves to sleep.
- Undress your Child: Sometimes part of the clothing is too tight or uncomfortable. Also check the skin for redness or swelling (eg insect bite).
- Expected Course: Most fussiness with illnesses resolves when the illness does. Most fussiness due to stress or change (eg new day care) lasts less than 1 week.
- Call Your Doctor If
- Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor” symptoms
- Constant crying lasts > 2 hours
- Intermittent crying lasts > 2 days