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The Crying Game

Why Babies cry

All infants cry to get their parents' attention  -- to alert them that they're tired, wet, hungry, or in need of a cuddle. But colicky babies are different: They'll cry loudly and inconsolably, for no apparent reason. "They don't necessarily cry more often than other babies," says Ronald Barr, M.D., professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. "They just cry longer once they get started."

Even so, it's not unusual for a colicky infant to spend half her waking hours in tears. Lori Hamilton, of Hot Springs, AR, says her daughter cried up to eight hours a day as a baby. "Sarah calmed down only when I nursed her," Hamilton recalls. "That would keep her quiet for about a half hour or so, but then she'd start screaming again."

Crying bouts most often occur in the late afternoon and early evening, but some colicky babies cry their way through the wee hours of the morning. Martha and Mike O'Connor, of Pennington, NJ, took turns walking their baby, Kelly, around the first floor of their house when she had colic. "She'd cry if you stopped moving her," says Martha. "I remember looking at the clock and noticing it took exactly one minute to walk her through all the rooms. I remember watching those minutes tick by, at one, two, three o'clock in the morning. Those late-night hours were the worst."