How to Decode Your Baby's Cry

crying newborn baby

Everyone knows that babies cry. A lot. We have to cut them some slack because crying is pretty much their only means of communication. But what are they trying to say? It’s not like a dog who goes to the door and scratches to go out. Nope. They just cry, hoping that you’ll get the picture.

There are about a million reasons why a baby is crying. Some days, they all sound the same and you’ll have to do some trial and error work to figure out exactly what she wants. Other times, she’ll give you extra cues -- an expression or extra noises, for instance.

Here are just a few of the reasons why babies cry -- and how to know what they're trying to tell you.


Tired -- She may build up to a full-fledged cry over the course of a few minutes when she’s sleepy. Watch for yawns as a precursor to the crying. They’ll help you know that the crying is about exhaustion and not colic.

Hungry -- Sometimes the hungry cry is a wail, and other times it’s a rhythmic and repetitive wail. If your baby has also been rooting, smacking her lips, and been fussy, she’s probably crying out of hunger.

Tummy Trouble -- Inconsolable screaming and wailing often signal colic or gas pains. A baby with colic or gas may cry for hours at a time, until the pain is relieved.

Overstimulated -- Sometimes they’ve just had enough. Too much playtime, too many people, just too much! A whiny and irritated cry usually signals overstimulation like this.

Sick -- Babies will let you know that they don’t feel well -- they usually sound just plain pitiful. If her cry just doesn’t sound quite right to you, it’s a signal that perhaps things aren’t okay. Check for a fever and other signs when you hear this cry.

How well can you decode your baby's cries?


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