Can Babies Die From Crying Too Long? Associated Risks

can babies die from crying too long

A baby cries, sometimes for prolonged periods and sometimes for shorter ones. This is normal, and it should not be a reason to worry for the most part. New parents might be worried if their baby’s crying too much, but it is usually completely normal.

Crying is a means of communication for the baby. If a baby is dealing with sleep deprivation or wants a clean diaper, he’ll let you know by crying. Once the baby gets what he wants, he’ll stop crying. Doctor Bristol has also assured parents that a crying baby is not something they should be worried about. As long as there are no medical problems, a baby or child left crying for long periods will not cause any problems later in life.

What To Do When Babies Cry


The shoosh-bounce technique is a good way to quiet a crying baby. Gently bounce a baby in a baby carrier that makes shooshing sounds. The baby’s brain might react calmly to the repetitive motion and sounds, decreasing their heart rate and relaxing their limbs. This can also distract the baby, making it stop crying and concentrate on the sound instead.

Play Music

Playing music is another effective technique to calm a crying baby. Music may typically relax the nervous system, lowering the baby’s heart and respiration rate. Nevertheless, particular genres and songs may be more effective for newborns. Singing to your baby is another good option. Since the baby will probably be familiar with your voice, it will help calm down his nerves and let him know he is not alone with a stranger.

Record and Play

When a baby is crying, they may get so upset that they find it difficult to quiet down even after the problem is resolved. Playing a video of the baby’s own crying might surprise them out of their agitation and provide an unexpected diversion. Introducing something new can help the baby stop crying repeatedly and become calmer.

Put The Lights Out

The constant noise and brightness of daily life may easily overwhelm babies. They could feel upset and find it challenging to sleep. A newborn can be comforted and calmed by being placed in an entirely dark room with no outside distractions. This is because babies are accustomed to the peaceful, dark surroundings of the womb, and reducing disturbance can recreate that environment, making them feel more relaxed.

White Noise

White noise may be really helpful in comforting a crying baby. Using a fan, vacuum, or white noise generator can help newborns relax by mimicking the noises they experienced while still in the womb and by masking other sounds. However, it is important that the volume stays low, as excessive noise could contribute to hearing loss.

Change the Scenery

If a baby is growing restless, changing the surroundings may assist in breaking them out of their crying episode. Relocating the baby from the crib to a new setting, such as the garden or kitchen, might provide them with fresh attention and improve their mood.

Work Out Your Own Stress

Constantly dealing with a crying baby can get irritating. Making time for exercise in the evening can release endorphins, the feel-good chemical, and offer parents a chance to unwind and focus on something other than their child, which can help them deal with the crying in a composed manner.

Why Do Babies Cry

  1. Hungry or full

While babies normally eat every 1-3 hours and take in roughly 2-3 ounces of breastmilk or formula per feeding, you should feed your baby if you feel they are still hungry. Watch for cues of fullness like shutting their lips, turning away from the nipple or bottle, relaxing their arms, and starting to nod off. All these signs indicate that your baby has had their fill, and you will not overfeed your child. This is a lesser-known fact, but babies also cry because they are overfed. Being overfed is uncomfortable and painful for them. Burping your child after feedings can help with digestion and reduce discomfort.

  1. Tiredness

Infants often cry from exhaustion. They need up to 17 hours of sleep each day while they are newborns, but because of their quick development and growth, they get tired rapidly. If you think your baby could be fatigued, put them to sleep. A few helpful suggestions are following safe sleep recommendations, swaddling, scheduling regular naps, and using soothing methods to calm them. By following these, you can make sure that your baby gets the sleep they need to stay healthy and happy.

  1. Unchanged Diaper

A dirty diaper is another one of the most frequent causes of a baby’s crying. If their diaper is dirty, babies could get upset and uncomfortable, which could cause them to cry. The diaper has to be changed as quickly as possible, especially if there is poop in it. Caregivers can usually sense poop in a diaper through its stench. Change diapers every two to three hours. Some diapers for newborns have a front indication strip that changes color from white to blue when the baby urinates, signaling that it’s time to change the diaper.

  1. Feelin too Hot

The baby’s temperature is a significant element that may cause pain and discomfort. It’s important to make sure that the baby is in a cool atmosphere and has appropriate covering since overheating or being too cold can be uncomfortable. Make sure the baby’s jacket, if it is worn in the car seat, is not too bulky or overheating the child. While outside, keep the baby in the shade or put them in a warm blanket according to the temperature.

  1. Pain

Infections or irritations can cause pain in babies, leading to crying. Teething, diaper rashes, or earaches are common conditions that cause discomfort. It’s a must to get medical attention if there is even a small doubt that the baby is in pain or has an infection. Many of these conditions can be easily treated, and it’s essential to address them promptly to avoid further discomfort for the baby.

Does Crying Damage Babies’ Brains?

Does Crying Damage Babies' Brains

Many parents are worried that letting their babies cry for extended periods of time will cause brain damage. However, researchers say that there is no proof to back this claim up. Crying for a prolonged period, such as 20 minutes, does not cause brain damage in babies. Crying is a natural and healthy way for babies to communicate that they need something, such as food or a diaper change. Unlike what many people believe, they are not manipulating the parents.

While it is true that stress can cause changes in the brain structure of animals, crying has not been shown to cause such damage. In fact, crying is a useful mechanism for raising the alarm when something is wrong. Babies cry for an average of two-and-a-half hours a day for the first three months of their lives, but this decreases to about an hour a day by the time they are one year old.

It is safe to practice “controlled crying” once a baby is older than six months and is crying just to get attention. Before that age, babies cry for a specific reason and should not be left to cry for extended periods of time.

Warnings of the Dangers of Leaving Babies to Cry

Many parents adopt different behaviors to stop their baby’s crying, out of which a popular one includes various forms of letting the baby “cry it out.” The phrase “crying it out” refers to any technique that involves leaving the baby alone for some time in a secure location, such as a crib.

It’s based on the psychological idea of “extinction” in learning theory, which states that undesirable behaviors, such as a child screaming, are eliminated when the reward is taken away, which in this case would be ‘attention from the caregiver.’

There are several methods for putting an end to crying, such as fully stopping all parental reactions (unmodified extinction) or doing it more gradually (gradual extinction) by progressively lengthening the time the infant is left to cry.

There are alternative options like “camping out,” in which parents remain in the same room as their child but do not pick them up. According to several studies, these approaches can decrease parent stress, exhaustion, and worry while also reducing the amount of crying and night restlessness.

Even though there have been some statements concerning the potential negative effects of “crying it out,” such as unstable infant-parent bonding, high levels of baby stress, and long-lasting emotional issues, it is impossible at the moment to confirm or reject the claim that it causes long-term harm.

The Effects of Excessive Crying

Babies’ bodies and brains suffer stress and anxiety when they cry out alone and unsupervised. This may result in a rise in stress hormones, which limit growth, weaken the immune system, and prevent the development of brain nerve cells.

  • Harmful physiological changes may be brought on by excessive crying. Persistent crying can raise stress hormones, block blood flow out of the brain, increase blood pressure within the brain, and reduce oxygen to the brain. This can cause fluctuations in body temperature, heart arrhythmias, and even a reduction in REM sleep needed for proper brain development and maturation.
  • The stress hormone cortisol can be excessively high in babies who routinely experience uncomfortable separation from their parents, and their growth hormone levels could also decrease because of it. Early life experiences of severe stress can affect the signaling pathways of the brain and result in structural and functional abnormalities in parts of the brain that are comparable to those observed in depressed adults.
  • Excessive sobbing can also impair cognitive, psychological, and social growth. Parents’ attention to their children is essential for the development of strong intellectual and social abilities. Infants whose cries are routinely disregarded might not acquire these skills. Babies who cry for extended periods of time during the first three months of life may have poor fine motor skills and an overall IQ nine degrees lower at age five.
  • A hyperactive adrenaline system can result from chronic stress overstimulating a baby’s central nervous system. As a result of the nervous system often and unnecessarily flooding the body with adrenaline and other stress chemicals, such a kid may later in life exhibit greater aggressiveness, recklessness, and violence. Cortisol, a stress hormone, breaks down nerve connections in crucial regions of a baby’s developing brain. The parts of the brain in charge of bonding and emotional regulation do not grow if they are not activated throughout childhood. The outcome is a youngster who is aggressive, reckless, and emotionally detached.

In general, it’s important for parents to respond to a baby’s cries in a thoughtful, timely, and consistent manner. The areas of the brain important for attachment and emotional well-being can be stimulated and shaped by a parent’s attention and responsiveness. Parents must be aware of the negative impacts of excessive crying in order to respond to their child’s needs in a healthy way.

Is Excessive Crying Harmful?

Excessive crying can be harmful not only for babies but for individuals of all ages. Crying is a natural and necessary human emotion helpful in managing stress and tension. However, when excessive crying becomes chronic, it can lead to a number of physical and emotional problems.

Chronic crying can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and headaches. It can also increase feelings of anxiety and depression. Prolonged crying can cause damage to the vocal cords and throat, leading to hoarseness and soreness. In addition, excessive crying can negatively impact relationships, as it may lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and irritation in those around the individual who is crying. Overall, while crying is a natural and normal human experience, excessive and chronic crying can have harmful effects on both physical and emotional health.

Bottom Line

Babies are unable to talk out their feelings and emotions, so they do the next best thing they can: cry. Most of the time, they either want attention or are just uncomfortable with something. However, too much crying, like if the child is repeatedly left to cry for more than three hours, can cause sudden infant death syndrome, but that is very rare. Usually, a warm bath, a clean diaper, a good meal, and some rest is enough to make the baby comfortable again.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

Recent Posts