Editorials

Why do babies cry?

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7222.1381 (Published 27 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1381

We still know too little about what will ease babies' pain

  1. Imti Choonara, professor in child health
  1. University of Nottingham, Derbyshire Children's Hospital, Derby DE22 3NE

    Paper p 1393

    Parents know that babies cry because they are either in pain or distressed They also know that babies cry to attract their attention so that they can comfort them. Pain is a subjective experience so one cannot prove that a newborn baby is in pain. One can, however, confirm that the baby is exhibiting signs of distress, probably caused by a painful procedure (such as venepuncture). Parents know that a crying baby needs comforting and will hold the infant close. Breast feeding mothers will give their infants the opportunity to breast feed, even if they are not hungry.

    The study by Carbajal et al in this week's issue confirms that these actions of mothers are appropriate (p 1393).1 This is important not because parents are likely to …

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