Number of hours your baby may cry in a day – one to three is usual, but some babies
can cry for up to 12 hours.
You may be lulled into false sense of security at the beginning of the week if your
baby hardly cries but sleeps most of the time. This is nature’s way of giving you
and your baby a chance to recover from the birth.
After a few days your baby will cry more and you’ll probably have no idea why. You
won't yet know him well enough to distinguish his different cries but there's a good
chance he's crying because he's hungry.
He's too young to cry from being over tired or because he's got a wet nappy. So whether
you are breast or bottle feeding, offering him milk whenever he cries is your best
chance of soothing him.
Some breastfed babies scream continually for hours on end any time from day two to
day five because they can’t get enough milk.
Breastfeeding mothers produce colostrum for the first few days, a thick milk rich
in antibodies and nutrients. The purpose of colostrum is to help protect your baby
against infection. You only produce tiny amounts but this corresponds to your baby’s
appetite as he won’t be especially hungry initially.
By about day three, colostrum is replaced by ‘real’ milk – which isn’t as thick,
but there is far more of it so your baby feels full and satisfied after a feed.
But nature frequently gets the timing wrong and your baby may be ready for the ‘real’
milk before your body has started producing it. The result is that you have a very
placid baby while you are in hospital, but almost as soon as you get home he starts
This will go on until your milk starts flowing freely which can take up to day five.
Naturally it’s distressing not being able to satisfy a hungry baby but do let him
suckle often as this speeds up your milk reflex because sucking makes prolactin,
a hormone that triggers your milk supply. Sucking also calms babies, so will hopefully
give you a little peace.
While you are waiting for your milk to come through, you may be tempted to give your
baby some formula milk. The main advantage is that this will stop him crying from
hunger. The big disadvantage is that if you don’t put your baby to your breast often
enough, it could interfere with your milk production and delay your milk even more.
But your baby won’t starve – your midwife can give reassurance when she weighs your
One compromise is to offer your baby a couple of ounces of formula when he seems
especially distressed, then when he is calmer let him suck from the breast.