Excessive crying, irritability, or fussiness in a child 3 months or older.
Child is too young to tell us or show us the cause for his crying. Crying is the only symptom.
If your child is crying from an illness or physical symptom, use that symptom checker instead of this one.
Not caused by hunger—by this age, you should be able to recognize hunger. Main Cause: Coming down with an illness. Other Common Causes: * Overtired, stressed, whining, tantrums, and separation anxiety. * Always consider pain as a possible cause of persistent fussiness or crying. Inconsolable crying may be the only symptom initially in a young child with an ear infection or even appendicitis. * Painful causes include earache, blocked nose from a cold, sore throat, mouth ulcers, raw diaper rash, metal ulcer on tip of penis, constipatio, and hair wrapped around toe (take off socks and check).
Call Your Doctor Now (or in Alberta, Canada call 780-408-LINK):
* IF Your child looks or acts very sick
* Stiff neck or bulging soft spot
* Possible injury (especially head or bone injury)
* Very irritable, screaming child for longer than 1 hour
* You are afraid you or someone might hurt or shake your baby
* Your child cannot be comforted after trying this advice for 2 hours
* Crying interferes with sleeping for longer than 2 hours
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (Between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm)
* If you think your child needs to be seen
* Pain (eg, earache) suspected as cause of crying
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours
* If you have other questions or concerns
* Mild, off-and-on fussiness (acts normal when not crying) continues more than 2 days
* Excessive crying is a chronic problem
Parent Care at Home If mild fussiness present fewer than 2 days and you don’t think your child needs to be seen
1. Reassurance: Most infants and toddlers become somewhat irritable and fussy when sick or overtired. Crying tells us your child is not feeling well. If the crying responds to comforting, it’s probably not serious.
2. Comforting: Try to comfort your child by holding, rocking, or massaging her
3. Sleep: If your child is tired, put him to bed. If he needs to be held, hold him quietly in a horizontal position or lie next to him. Some overtired infants need to cry themselves to sleep
4. Undress Your Child: Sometimes part of her clothing is too tight or uncomfortable. Also check her skin for redness or swelling (eg, insect bite)
5. Discontinue Medicines:
* If your child is taking a cough or cold medicine, stop it
* The crying should stop within 4 hours
* Antihistamines (eg, Benadryl) can cause screaming and irritability in some children
* Pseudoephedrine (decongestant) can cause jitteriness and crying
6. Expected Course: Most fussiness with illnesses resolves when the illness does. Most fussiness caused by stress or change (eg, new child care) lasts less than 1 week
7. Call Your Doctor If:
* Constant crying lasts longer than 2 hours
* Intermittent crying lasts more than 2 days
* Your child becomes worse
Based on recommendations/advice in “My Child is Sick; Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries”, 14th Edition, by Barton D. Schmitt