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HealthInfo Canterbury

When your baby is unsettled

It's common for babies to have unsettled behaviour, for example, long periods of crying and fussing, not wanting to be soothed, spilling up milk, or problems with getting to sleep or frequent waking in the night.

Although this is normal behaviour, it can make you feel worried or anxious that you can't soothe or comfort your baby. You might even feel fed up and angry.

Some babies spill up a lot, some get unhappy when they spill and will cry and take time to settle afterwards. This is normal too.

As long as your baby is growing well, you should not worry that there is anything wrong.


If the crying is getting too much for you, put your baby in a safe place, such as their cot, take a few minutes to calm yourself and go back and check on your baby. If you ever feel that you may harm or shake your baby, ask for urgent help. Ring a friend, neighbour, partner, family member, or health professional urgently.

What is normal crying?

For more information about normal crying, see Why does my baby cry so much?

What can I do to try and help my baby?

There are some things you can do to help settle and comfort your baby.

Look after yourself


If you feel you are not coping, are tearful, worried, angry, feeling down and hopeless, it is important you seek help for yourself. Mothers with unsettled babies can have postnatal depression or anxiety.

Contact your doctor, Well Child provider, or midwife.

Be smokefree

Keep your baby away from smoke, both inside and outside the house, and in the car.

Soothing and settling

Soothing your baby can be hard when they are unsettled and crying.



Help your baby to become a good sleeper.

What about medicines?

Medicines (such as omeprazole and ranitidine) have not been shown to help unsettled and crying babies, and may cause harm.

Who can help me?

Talk to your health professional, Well Child provider, or midwife for more help and advice.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Looking after an unsettled baby

Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed May 2017. Last updated September 2019.

See also:

When your baby has reflux or GORD

Page reference: 110997

Review key: HIUCB-33560