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Do Babies Actually Shed Tears When They Cry?

All babies cry, and often it’s not because they’re in pain, or because they’re hungry or in some other sort of distress. Sometimes, a baby will cry just to get a parent’s attention. But for the first few months of their lives, babies don’t usually shed tears when they cry. “While newborns are born with working tear ducts and glands, they only produce enough tears to lubricate and protect the eye, which means there's no excess to roll down your baby's cheeks when they cry,” explains Dr. Jennifer Shu, co-author of Heading Home With Your Newborn.

It's not easy being a baby:

  • You will typically begin to see teardrops when a baby is between one and three months old, after the glands develop. If a baby’s eye fills with tears when he or she is not crying, though, it may be an indication of a blocked tear duct.

  • At about two to three weeks of age, many babies will become inconsolable at a regular time of the day. The so-called "arsenic hour" or "witching hour" often strikes in late afternoon, and typically stops at around 12 weeks, when day/night rhythms are established.

  • The "witching hour" phenomenon is not fully understood, but doctors think it has something to do with over-stimulation of the sensory nervous system. Parents should try to stay calm and keep in reassuringly close proximity to their babies.

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More Info: Practical Parenting magazine

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