Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Can Crying Cause a Hernia?

Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Q: We have a one-week-old son and I was recently told that allowing him to cry for longer than five minutes can cause a hernia. Is there any validity to this statement? Are there any other reasons why we shouldn't let him cry himself to sleep?

A: Crying for more than five minutes does not cause a hernia. It is true that in a baby who already has a certain type of hernia, crying for long periods of time can make the hernia pop out more, but it's not the cause of the problem.

I encourage parents of young babies to pick up their baby when he is crying and see if they can help him fall asleep. Many young infants don't know how to settle themselves and need some help with quieting down in order to fall asleep. Techniques such as rocking, patting, and snuggling can help lull a baby to sleep.

You can't spoil a baby this age by picking him up; infants do need comforting and should have their needs met. Thus I don't generally recommend just letting a one-week-old infant cry himself to sleep. If parents have been trying to quiet the baby for a while, and he's still screaming despite your best efforts, then, as a last resort, it's okay to put the baby in the crib and let him "cry it out."

This does not mean that you should spend a child's entire infancy coaxing him to fall asleep. Every child to learn how to fall asleep on his own, but many children need help with this in the first few months of life. By three months of age most infants have settled down and no longer have long periods of crying.

More on: Expert Advice

Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.