Abdominal Pain - Female
Abdominal Pain - Male
Acne
Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
Back Pain
Bed Bug Bite
Bee or Yellow Jacket Sting
Blisters
Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
Breast-Feeding Questions
Bruise
Burn
Chest Pain
Chickenpox
Circumcision Problems
Colds
Constipation
Cough
Coughs: Meds or Home Remedies
Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Croup
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
Crying Child - 3 Months and Older
Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Dizziness
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
Ear - Discharge
Ear - Injury
Ear - Pulling At or Rubbing
Ear - Swimmer's
Ear Infection Questions
Earache
Earwax Buildup
Ebola Exposure
Eczema
Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fever
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Flu
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Frostbite
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Headache
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Hives
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Mental Health Problems
Molluscum
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Nosebleed
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Pinworms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Ringworm
Roseola
Scabies
Scrape
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Sty
Sunburn
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Teething
Thrush
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Toothache
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Warts
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection

Resources

Is Your Child Sick?TM


Crying Child - 3 Months and Older

Is this your child's symptom?

  • A child more than 3 months old is crying or very fussy
  • You don't know why
  • Your child is too young to tell you why
  • Age: Most of these children are younger than 2 years old
  • Crying is the only symptom
  • For crying with an illness or other symptom, go to that care guide

If NOT, try one of these:


Causes of Unexplained Crying

  • New Illness. Coming down with an illness is the main physical cause. Young children cry about being sick, even if they don't have any pain.
  • Physical Pain. Painful causes include earache, sore throat, mouth ulcers, or a raw diaper rash. A sore on the penis or constipation may also cause pain or crying.
  • Behavioral Causes. Most crying means the child is upset about something. Crying can occur when a young child is separated from his parents. Other examples are crying with tantrums or when overtired. This guide detects many babies with sleep problems. Crying always occurs during re-training programs for bad sleep habits. Some preverbal children cry any time they want something.
  • Hunger. After the early months, most parents can recognize hunger and feed their child. If they don't, the child may cry.
  • Cold Medicines. Drugs like Sudafed can also cause crying. Note: FDA does not advise cough and cold medicines for children under 4 years.

Myths About Causes of Crying

  • Not Due to Teething. Teething may cause some babies to be fussy. But, in general, it does not cause crying.
  • Not Due to Gas. Gas passing through normal intestines does not cause pain or crying.

When to Call for Crying Child - 3 Months and Older

Call 911 Now

  • Not moving or very weak
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Could be an injury
  • Nonstop crying lasts more than 2 hours. (Your child can't be consoled using this Care Advice)
  • You are afraid someone might hurt or shake your child
  • Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
  • Not alert when awake ("out of it")
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think pain (such as an earache) is causing the crying
  • New crying but your child can be consoled. Cause of crying is not clear.
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Mild, off-and-on fussiness without a cause lasts more than 2 days
  • Crying is a frequent problem
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild fussiness without a cause is present less than 2 days
  • Normal protest crying
  • Temper tantrum crying
  • Sleep problem crying

Call 911 Now

  • Not moving or very weak
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor Now or Go to ER

  • Could be an injury
  • Nonstop crying lasts more than 2 hours. (Your child can't be consoled using this Care Advice)
  • You are afraid someone might hurt or shake your child
  • Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
  • Not alert when awake ("out of it")
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • You think pain (such as an earache) is causing the crying
  • New crying but your child can be consoled. Cause of crying is not clear.
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Mild, off-and-on fussiness without a cause lasts more than 2 days
  • Crying is a frequent problem
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Mild fussiness without a cause is present less than 2 days
  • Normal protest crying
  • Temper tantrum crying
  • Sleep problem crying

Care Advice

Mild Fussiness of Unknown Cause

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Your child is crying and fussing more than normal. But, if acting normal when not crying, the cause is probably not serious.
    • He could be coming down with an illness. Most often, that will become clear in a day or so.
    • He could be reacting to some changes in your home or child care setting. See if you can come up with some ideas.
    • At times, children can also go through a "clingy phase" without a reason.
    • If the crying stops with comforting, it's not serious.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Comfort Your Child:
    • Try to comfort your child by holding, rocking, or massage.
    • Talk in a quiet, calm voice.
  3. Undress Your Child- Check the Skin:
    • Sometimes, part of the clothing is too tight. Loosen it.
    • Also, check the skin for redness or swelling (such as an insect bite).
  4. Stop Any Over-the-Counter Medicines:
    • If your child is taking a cough or cold med, stop it.
    • The crying should stop within 4 hours.
    • Allergy meds like Benadryl can cause screaming in a small number of children. Also, may cause some children to be more fussy than normal.
    • Drugs that lessen congestion like Sudafed can cause crying.
    • The FDA does not approve any of these drugs for children under 4 years old.
  5. Sleep - Take a Nap:
    • If your child is tired, put him to bed.
    • If he needs to be held, hold him quietly in your arms. Sometimes, lying next to him will comfort him.
    • Some overtired infants need to cry themselves to sleep.
  6. Warning: Never Shake a Baby
    • It can cause bleeding on the brain. Severe brain damage can happen in a few seconds.
    • Never leave your baby with someone who is immature or has a bad temper.
    • If you are frustrated, put your baby down in a safe place.
    • Call or ask a friend or relative for help.
    • Take a break until you calm down.
  7. What To Expect:
    • Most fussiness with illnesses goes away when the illness does.
    • Fussiness may be due to family stress or change (such as new child care). Fussiness due to this cause lasts less than 1 week.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Nonstop crying lasts more than 2 hours
    • Crying with an illness gets worse
    • Mild crying lasts more than 2 days
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

Normal Protest Crying

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Normal children cry when they don't get their way.
    • Normal children cry when you make changes in their routines.
    • Crying is how young children communicate in the first years of life.
    • Crying can mean, "I don't want to."
    • This is called normal protest crying and is not harmful.
    • Do not assume that crying means pain.
  2. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Crying becomes worse
    • Your child does not improve with this advice
    • You have other questions or concerns

Temper Tantrum Crying

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Crying is the most common symptom of a temper tantrum.
    • Temper tantrums occur when your child is angry or trying to get his way.
    • This is likely the cause of the crying if it occurs at these times.
    • All kids have some temper tantrums, starting at about 9 months of age.
  2. Tips for Dealing with Temper Tantrums:
    • Ignore most tantrums (such as wanting something the child doesn't need).
    • Don't give your child an audience. Leave the room.
    • For tantrums from frustration (such as when something doesn't work), help your child.
    • For tantrums that involve hitting or throwing objects, put in timeout. Leave your child there until he calms down.
    • Don't give in to tantrums. No means No.
    • Be a good role model. Do not yell or scream at others (adult tantrums).
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Crying becomes worse
    • Your child does not improve with this advice
    • You have other questions or concerns

Sleep Problem Crying

  1. What You Should Know:
    • Sleep problems can cause crying. Suspect this if most of your child's crying occurs in his crib or bed. The crying mainly occurs when you put him down for naps and at night. Also, suspect a sleep problem if your child acts normal during the daytime.
    • Sleep problems are common in childhood.
  2. Tips for Treating the Sleep Problem:
    • Re-train your child to be a good sleeper at bedtime and naptime.
    • Place your child in the crib "sleepy but awake."
    • Once placed in the crib, don't take your child out again.
    • Visit your child as often as needed until asleep.
    • For waking at night, it's fine to hold your child until calm.
    • Do all of this in a loving way with a calm voice.
    • Never feed until asleep. Always stop before asleep.
    • Never sleep in the same bed with your child.
  3. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Crying becomes worse
    • Your child does not improve with this advice
    • You have other questions or concerns

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Copyright 1994-2017 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC. All rights reserved.

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