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What age do kids cry most?

Crying is a normal part of childhood development. All babies cry, with crying peaks happening around 2-4 months and 9-12 months as babies go through growth spurts and developmental leaps. After the first year, crying frequency decreases but remains common in toddlers and young children. Understanding when kids cry the most can help parents know what to expect and provide appropriate care and comfort.

Newborn Period (0-3 months)

Newborns do a lot of crying, especially in the first few months of life. Crying peaks around 2-4 months of age as babies become more alert and their sensory perceptions mature. Some key reasons babies cry in the newborn period include:

  • Hunger
  • Discomfort from wet or dirty diapers
  • Tiredness and need for sleep
  • Overstimulation from noise, lights, handling
  • Loneliness and need for comfort
  • Colic – abdominal pain from immature digestive system
  • Illness

Newborns cry an average of 2-3 hours per day, with crying bouts lasting from a few minutes to up to an hour or longer. Crying peaks around 6-8 weeks of age, when babies may cry up to 5 hours per day on average. Reasons for increased crying around 6-8 weeks include:

  • Growth spurts leading to increased hunger
  • Greater alertness and sensory perception
  • Difficulty settling – newborns lose their sleepy reflex around 6 weeks
  • Developmental leaps as babies become more social and aware

By 12 weeks, total daily crying time decreases to around 1-2 hours per day on average as babies become better at self-soothing and parents learn hunger and sleep cues.

4-6 Months

After the newborn period, crying time decreases until another peak around 4-6 months. Babies at this age cry an average of around 2 hours per day. Reasons for increased crying during this time include:

  • 4 month sleep regression – disruption of sleep cycles
  • Growth spurts and increased hunger
  • Teething pain as first teeth emerge
  • Advancing motor skills leading to frustration when physical limits are met
  • Greater separation anxiety when away from parents
  • Overstimulation from increased sensory awareness
  • Developmental leaps in socialization, language, and object permanence skills

By 6 months, crying gradually decreases again as babies gain skills and parents learn to read cues. Swaddling, responsive feeding, tactical soothing techniques, teething remedies, and avoiding overstimulation can help reduce crying during this time.

9-12 Months

After 6 months, crying continues to decline until another peak around 9-12 months. On average, babies cry around 1.5 hours per day at this age. Reasons for increased crying during the 9-12 month period include:

  • Separation anxiety increases as babies recognize parents/caregivers
  • Frustration with physical limitations – wants to crawl or walk but lacks full mobility skills
  • Major mental developmental leaps as babies near toddlerhood
  • Difficulty communicating needs and wants verbally
  • Teething pain continues as more teeth emerge
  • Rashes from new foods – especially acidic fruits/veggies
  • Growth spurts and increased appetite
  • Ear infections common during cold/flu season

Responding promptly, acknowledging frustrations, providing teething relief, introducing sign language, childproofing, and having consistent nap/bedtime routines can help reduce crying episodes.

Toddlerhood (1-3 years)

Daily crying decreases significantly after 12 months but remains common in toddlers. On average, toddlers cry around 30 minutes per day. Reasons include:

  • Expressing independence and frustration when limits are set
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Trouble communicating needs as language skills develop
  • Tantrums triggered by tiredness, hunger, transitions, overstimulation
  • Separation anxiety when away from parents
  • Falling and minor injuries common while learning to walk/run
  • Stranger anxiety emerges around 6-9 months, peaks around 12-18 months

Giving toddlers independence, keeping routines consistent, acknowledging emotions, avoiding emotional escalation, distraction techniques, and remaining calm can help minimize crying episodes.

Preschool Years (3-5 years)

Crying continues to taper off as children grow past toddlerhood but remains a way preschoolers express emotions. On average, preschoolers cry around 15 minutes per day. Reasons include:

  • Frustration when they can’t do something independently
  • Tantrums when tired, hungry, or routines are disrupted
  • Seeking attention from parents/caregivers
  • Expressing “big feelings” like anger, sadness, fear they can’t verbalize
  • Conflicts with siblings and peers in social settings
  • Fears about new experiences – first day of school, etc.

Having consistent routines, giving them words to describe emotions, acknowledging feelings, redirection, and praising good behavior can help minimize crying in the preschool years.

When Should You Worry About Excessive Crying?

While crying is normal in childhood, excessive crying beyond these averages may signal an underlying issue that needs attention. Consult your pediatrician if your child cries excessively and causes concern:

  • Cries more than 3 hours per day on average after 6 weeks old
  • Inconsolable crying for long bouts (more than 20-30 minutes) repeatedly
  • Crying that escalates in intensity or seems painful
  • High-pitched or shrill crying compared to normal cries
  • Stiffening of the back/neck while crying
  • Pulling knees up during crying episodes
  • Crying and signs of distress immediately following feedings

While colic, reflux, food sensitivities, and developmental issues can lead to excessive crying, always rule out possible underlying medical issues as well. Persistent excessive crying can result in parental/caregiver stress and should be addressed.

Soothing Techniques for Crying Babies & Toddlers

When children cry, parents and caregivers need techniques to soothe them. Here are some effective soothing methods to try when babies and toddlers cry:

  • Hold/wear your baby – Physical touch and skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin to comfort babies.
  • Soft swaying motions – Rhythmic rocking, walking, or bouncing can be soothing.
  • White noise – Loud shushing, a white noise machine, fan, or clothing dryer can mimic sounds from the womb.
  • Pacifiers – Sucking soothes babies and toddlers by triggering calming reflexes.
  • Swaddling – Wrapper babies snugly in a blanket provides a sense of security.
  • Warm baths – Bathing in warm (NOT hot) water of around 98F is comforting.
  • Riding in a car – The vibration and motion of a moving car can calm upset babies.
  • Sing lullabies – Soft, rhythmic songs in a soothing tone appeals to babies’ love of music.
  • Give a focal point – Dangling grasping toys, using a baby mirror, or making funny faces can distract young babies from fussing.

Avoid overstimulation and stick to a calming routine. Pay attention to cues to identify why your baby is crying. With time and consistency, you’ll discover what comforts your child best.

Soothing Techniques for Preschoolers & Older Kids

Here are techniques to help calm crying episodes in preschoolers and older children:

  • Validate their feelings – “I know you’re sad we had to leave the park.”
  • Offer comfort items – Favorite stuffed animal, blanket, pacifier for younger kids.
  • Reassure and distract – “Your dragon will protect you. Let’s count dragons to feel better!”
  • Change environments – Bring them to a quiet spot to calm down.
  • Use music/rhythmic sounds – Humming, singing, or turning on a soothing song can shift mood.
  • Teach breathing techniques – Blowing bubbles or belly breathing helps lower tension.
  • Offer options/choices – Provide two calm options to give them a sense of control.
  • Use humor – Make silly faces or voices to get giggles.
  • Model staying calm – Your composed presence helps them regulate emotions.

Stay patient, speak gently, respect emotions, and offer hugs (if wanted). Praise their efforts to self-soothe as coping skills develop.

When to Seek Help for Crying & Fussing

See your pediatrician promptly if:

  • Crying seems extreme compared to normal development for child’s age
  • Crying happens at same time daily and nothing soothes your child
  • Crying begins suddenly and persists for more than 1-2 weeks
  • Your child seems unwell or in pain when crying
  • Crying interferes with feeding, sleeping, growth, development
  • You feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or concerned by constant crying

Seek help sooner if you observe any facial twitching, neck arching, body stiffening or other signs of neurological issues during crying. While crying is normal, excessive uncontrolled crying may signal an underlying problem needing medical attention.


Crying peaks in babies around 2-4 months and 9-12 months, but remains common in children up to preschool age as they communicate needs and undergo socioemotional development. While crying can feel distressing for parents, it is a normal part of growing up. Understanding age-related reasons for crying can help parents respond with empathy and appropriate care. Most common childhood crying resolves on its own, but excessive crying or any signs of developmental delays warrants discussing concerns with a pediatrician.