Newborns take over the lives of their parents at birth. We grow so fond of them that we peek into their cribs often to check if they are breathing, dreaming or smiling in their sleep. Every sound and movement alert parents of the infant’s needs. It is only understandable that when an infant is silent for too long, the parents become anxious with the thought: “Is it normal for a baby not to cry?”
Your baby not crying may be an indication of an alert caregiver who is sensitive to the needs of the baby. Newborn babies may not cry loudly or communicate in quieter ways. Otherwise, your baby may be ill or worse, neglected.
Parents do not worry without reason. You may have noticed changes with your baby’s temperament as with a bouncy baby that suddenly becomes lethargic. If the baby is sick, there should be other signs why he is not crying such as drowsiness, fever, and congestion.
Why Is Baby Not Crying?
Baby’s cries are similar to alarm sounds that signal parents and caregivers that the baby needs attention. In some cases, the baby may not alert caregivers in this manner. Reasons why babies don’t cry range from good to bad, including:
• NEEDS ARE MET BEFORE BABY CRIES
In one way, you may be preventing baby from crying. There is no need to trigger baby’s cries when he is perfectly fine and content. Some infants learn to self-soothe early and may suck his thumb when hungry instead of crying. It is still best to be a cautious caregiver and know when your baby’s silence is trying to warn you of something wrong.
• INFECTION OR ILLNESS
Is it normal for a baby not to cry when he is sick? The illness may cause infants to sleep longer and more often than usual. On the one hand, they need rest to recover. However, if baby finds it difficult to wake up for feeding, wets less than four diapers a day, and is not alert when awake, the baby may be too weak to cry due to infection.
Breastfeeding mothers are more prone to worry if their babies are feeding enough. As a cardinal rule, babies feed every 1.5 to 3 hours. Infants also require six to ten diaper changes a day. Dehydration comes with other signs such as dry mouth, sleepiness, less/no tears, dry skin, and thirstiness.
Caution: Infants that did not nurse or drink in the past 8 hours may be severely dehydrated. Be advised to give baby more liquids in hot weather and when ill. Vomiting can also cause dehydration.
• GENETIC DISORDER
NGLY1 is a new rare genetic disorder that causes an inability to cry. Babies with Down Syndrome may also cry less than other babies. The pattern of seldom crying should be apparent early on. Primary caregivers should always monitor any changes in sleeping patterns, feeding, and length of time crying.
Not all autistic children are hyperactive. There are those that are very passive and signs can show as early as infancy. These babies are passive and uninterested. Parents may notice lack of movement, even refusal of parent’s touch, and lack of crying.
A baby with jaundice can sleep too much, feed too little, and feel very lethargic. Jaundice is common in the baby’s first week of life and often goes away on its own. It is more common in premature babies. It is sometimes also indicative of other diseases such as an infection or deficiency.
• BREATHING PROBLEMS
Some babies cry to the point they stop breathing or they hold their breath and pass out. Suffocation also stops the baby from crying. Difficulty breathing, asthma, and similar conditions also make it difficult for babies to cry properly.
• HEART CONDITION
Infants with a weak heart can have trouble breathing. Doctors often advise parents of heart babies to avoid letting them cry before repair. Even those who undergo surgery may have limitations to how long their heart can take crying.
• VOCAL FOLD PARALYSIS
Vocal cords or vocal folds are essential to talk, swallow, cough, laugh, gurgle, cry, and breathe. Infection, problems during childbirth, among others can damage one or both sides of the vocal fold. Babies born with this vocal cord palsy try to cry so much they turn blue. The vocal cords eventually strengthen within two years while in other cases, tracheostomy would be necessary.
Babies cry to communicate a problem. It may be a lack of affection, hunger, changes in temperature, among other reasons. Excessive crying can result in fainting, choking, brain damage, weight loss, and stunt development. Older infants lying silently alone for long periods of time may have given up crying since he knows his needs won’t be met anyway.
The First Few Weeks Of Birth
Babies communicate by crying. Similar to differences in when babies start to talk, newborn infants, vary when they start crying to communicate. It can take a week or more for some newborns to be more vocal with their feelings.
Babies in the NICU tend to cry less as they receive more attention. Feeding times are scheduled and breathing devices keep them quiet. Even at home, there are preemies that are perfectly healthy and recovering but won’t cry a lot until they reach a certain size or age.
How Babies Communicate
In the infancy stage, babies communicate in various ways including sucking their thumb, whining softly, grunting, and crying in different tones. Babies who rarely cry may still fuss during bath time, nappy changes or when something is wrong like when hair ends up in his diaper. There are also babies that only cry softly in the first few weeks. The volume of a baby’s cry will get louder as he gets bigger.
Babies sometimes cry for no reason, and some parents would rather hear their baby cry than suffer the silence. Stay calm and cautious to protect the baby in case of true danger. Some red flags when baby won’t cry are:
Infants are not spoiled brats trying to act entitled. They need constant care for the things they cannot do for themselves. Babies that cry loudly for long periods may be in pain or colicky (uncontrollable crying in healthy babies, usually ends by 9 months).
On the other hand, babies that communicate softly with whines, soft cries, and grunts may be tricky. It could be that you won the baby lottery and have a calm, relaxed baby easily satisfied. However, if you are worried over feeding changes, sleeping problems, and fever on top of baby’s no-crying problem, medical attention should top priority.
Vocal cord palsy, breathing problems, and heart condition call for parents to be more alert in providing care for their babies. Infants that are too weak to cry may be neglected, infected or seriously ill. Sick or not, babies need love and attention even when they communicate loudly or softly, cry for hours or only minutes throughout the day.