What can cause a baby to cry before peeing? Most often, this is related to pain, with some underlying explanation.
Let’s go through why a newborn baby cries before urinating here.
My 3-week-old newborn baby cries inconsolably, at least for 3-4 minutes before she urinates, but not all the time. Sometimes, she cries for a few seconds. She doesn’t cry if she urinates in sleep.
Did anyone face similar problems with their babies? What can it be, and what should I do? Please reply.
Baby Cries Before Urinating: Causes and Treatment
Crying before urinating could be due to different reasons. And there is a difference between crying for several minutes and only for a few seconds.
1. “Normal” baby discomfort
First off – does your baby seem to be in pain? Crying for several minutes sounds like your baby is in pain. Peeing obviously should not be painful, and the situation needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Pain can be a medical condition symptom, causing the baby to cry when peeing.
Crying before urination can, to some extent, be expected as babies or infants do not have bladder control as yet. What they feel is the stretching of their bladder as it fills up, which may be interpreted as uncomfortable or painful. Babies still have to strain to pee or poop.
When a baby cries, abdominal pressure builds up, which then causes the passage of urine and poop.
If the baby does not stop crying after urinating, it may, however, indicate that he is in real pain rather than just some degree of expected discomfort.
2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethra and grow in the bladder. It is common for babies to have UTIs. Babies with anatomical abnormalities in their urinary tracts are more at risk of having UTIs frequently.
It can be challenging to diagnose urinary tract infections in infants, especially when there are many reasons why a baby may cry at this age.
Here are some symptoms of urinary tract infections in infants:
- Crying during urination (due to pain or dysuria)
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine
- Bloody urine (also called hematuria)
- Loss of appetite or does not feed
If your baby exhibits some of these symptoms, you should take them to a hospital for a medical consultation. The pediatrician will get a sample of his urine and have it tested for bacteria. Your baby will be prescribed antibiotics and fever medications.
You can find more symptoms of urinary tract infections in infants here and see if your baby has other signs of illness, too.
How to prevent urinary tract infections in babies
It is important always to have good diaper hygiene, as preventing UTIs in babies is challenging because of the use of diapers. But there are things that you can do to keep your baby’s diaper hygienic.
- Always change the diaper as soon as your baby poops.
- Change his diaper as soon as it fills up (you have to check it from time to time)
- Wipe from front to back. Or you can just wash his genitals after peeing or pooping. Wipe with a clean cloth from front to back.
3. Diaper rash
Diaper rash is a common condition in babies. This can occur when the baby’s skin gets irritated with frequently wet diapers (full diapers left on for too long), when there is an infection (which happens when wet diapers are left on for too long, too), and when a baby is allergic to certain types of fabric or chemicals or wipes.
A diaper rash can be sore, scaly, red, and tender to touch.
Check the skin around your baby’s genitals for any rashes, scaling, or redness. This can easily be treated with zinc oxide. Check your baby’s diaper often, and always wash your baby after pooping or wipe properly after peeing. Diaper rash usually goes away within 2 to 3 days.
Learn more about how to mitigate diaper rash here.
How to prevent diaper rash
To prevent diaper rash, you can do the following:
- Change your baby’s wet diaper as soon as possible.
- Wash your baby using gentle soap and warm water. Do not use detergents, bath bombs, or scented soaps. These can irritate and alter the pH of the skin.
- Apply diaper cream after every diaper change until the diaper rash has healed.
- Do not use very tight diapers. You may put the diapers on loosely to prevent chafing.
4. Diaper dermatitis
Diaper dermatitis is the inflammation of the skin around the diaper area. It is a common form of contact dermatitis in babies. The skin gets inflamed and irritated with urine and feces.
The cause of this is similar to UTI and diaper rash: poor diaper hygiene. It can be caused by not changing the diaper often and soon enough, the baby has diarrhea or frequent bowel movement, or your baby is taking antibiotics (which can alter the Ph of the skin), or you are taking antibiotics, and you’re breastfeeding.
Diaper dermatitis can occur differently in children and babies. This includes:
- The irritated skin (usually involving the buttocks, thighs, belly, and waist) is red and shiny. This is an indication of contact dermatitis.
- The skin is deep red and has patches outside the diaper area, also affecting the creases and folds in the thigh and the diaper area, indicating candida diaper dermatitis. There is usually co-existing candidiasis or oral thrush manifested as white patches in the mouth.
- The skin is red with yellow and oily patches. This is an indication of seborrheic diaper dermatitis. This may also appear on the face, scalp, neck, and skin folds.
Consult with your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis. Practice good diaper hygiene to prevent this. You will be given ointments, antifungal creams, or corticosteroid creams for diaper dermatitis, depending on the cause. Antibiotic medicine will also be prescribed if there is a superimposed bacterial infection.
5. Baby Elimination Communication
Baby elimination communication is also known as infant potty training or natural infant hygiene. This supports a diaper-free baby. It is the practice of learning your baby’s cues (communication) and timing for peeing and pooping (elimination) on the potty.
This is a baby’s natural way of communicating very early that they are about to pee. Sometimes, crying before peeing is simply natural and can be used by parents for early potty training. It does not mean your baby is intentionally communicating a need to pee.
Here are some common Elimination Communication signals babies may show:
- Sudden fussiness or stillness
- Shivering just before peeing
- Becoming still and staring into space
- Flailing (young baby) or becoming agitated
- Unlatching repeatedly while nursing
- Grunting, becoming red, straining (for poo)
- Tossing and turning restlessly during sleep
How to start baby elimination communication
To start baby EC, you may begin by observing your baby. In doing this, you have to keep in mind that babies pee shortly after feeding. You have to be familiar with their peeing and pooping times. Do not put any diaper on for a time, and observe his body language when he goes. Remember to put him on a waterproof mat.
When he goes, you can introduce cues such as a “pss” sound for peeing or a ”hmm” sound when pooping. That way, he can associate these sounds with letting go.
Always keep a potty nearby. You can bring the potty to him immediately when you see his cues.
Advantages and disadvantages of using baby elimination communication
There are benefits and disadvantages to baby EC. For the benefits:
- You develop a deep connection with your baby.
- Fewer chances of developing diaper rash and UTIs.
- Babies are more comfortable with underwear.
- Babies gain self-esteem as their need is responded to immediately and properly.
- Save money since you won’t have to buy diapers.
The disadvantages include more time and dedication in watching and monitoring the diaper and your baby’s cues.
You can watch this video about baby elimination communication if you are curious:
When to Contact a Doctor
Contact your doctor when any of the following symptoms occur:
- Crying incessantly
- Unexplained fever
- Loss of appetite or not feeding
- Sunken fontanels or eyeballs
- Diaper rash that develops into sores and does not go away with topical agents
- Blood in the urine
These are all red flags for infection and other more serious conditions.
To conclude, if your baby cries before urinating, take it seriously and assume that something is wrong – most likely a diaper rash or a urinary tract infection. Contact your doctor immediately.
Always maintain good diaper hygiene, as it can save your baby the hassles of infection, irritations, and allergies.
When everything has been sorted out, you can try to observe your baby if you find baby elimination communication interesting to discover.
I wish you good luck!
Read Next About Urination in Babies
- How Often Should A Newborn Pee? Normal Frequency and Color
- How Often Should A Baby Pee? Your Baby Urine Frequency Guide!
- 10 Important Reasons For Blood In a Baby’s Diaper
- Toddler is Not Urinating: 5 Important Reasons, What to Do
- Elimination Communication: Diaper-Free in America
- What are some of the basics of infant health?- Urination
- Urinary Tract Infections in Children: Why They Occur and How to Prevent Them
- Diaper Dermatitis | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Add your comments below, or check out all other posts about babies’ peeing behaviors.
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.