Crying infant

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  • Mean duration of crying is approximately 2 hrs/day for the first 6 wks[1]
  • This decreases to 72 mins/day by age 10-12 wks
  • As many as 43% of infants experience excessive crying[2]
  • 5% of crying infants are found to have underlying disease[3]

Differential Diagnosis

Algorithm for the evaluation of the crying infant

Crying Infant


  1. rule out badness above including shaken baby
  2. flourescein staining to rule out corneal abrasions
  3. fundoscopic exam
  4. rule out otitis
  5. examine all bones/joints to rule out fracture, osteo or septic joint
  6. inspect GU area
  7. Skeletal survey & head CT in suspected child abuse
  8. 4% benefit from change to soy formula
  9. rocking, warm compresses to belly feeding, frequent burping, diaper changes


  • If no underlying cause is found attempt the "5 Ss"
    • Swaddling
    • Side/Stomach position while awake
    • Shhhhing to provide soothing sound
    • Swinging the baby in parent's arms
    • Sucking on breast or pacifier

See Also


  1. Wolke D, et al. Meta-analysis of fuss/cry durations and colic prevalence across countries. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Infant Cry Research Workshop. 8-10 June 2011. Zeist, The Netherlands.
  2. Reijneveld SA, et al. Excessive infant crying: the impact of varying definitions. Pediatrics. 2001; 108(4):893-897.
  3. Barr, RG. Colic and crying syndromes in infants. Pediatrics. 1998; 102(5):1282-1286.