The first cry brings joy. It’s your baby’s way of greeting the world, announcing their big and dramatic arrival.
However, it is more than just that. It is your baby’s first grasp of air into the lungs. Similarly, your baby’s cry is a way of communicating.
It could be saying, “Hey, I am hungry”, or it could be a cry for help.
But how do you know the types of baby cries and what different cries mean? Here’s how:
8 Types Of Baby Cries
1. Your Baby Is Hungry
Newborn babies eat every two to four hours. Initially, when the baby is hungry, it will only make a little fuss. But as it gets hungrier, it will lead to frantic crying with loud, long, and demanding cries and long pauses.
As time passes, the pauses will become shorter and the cries louder. This is the point where the baby is too worked up to eat, and you may wonder if the baby was even hungry in the first place.
So, you need to recognize signs of hunger before your baby gets worked up. Along with the siren-like cry, the baby will:
- Smack their lips
- Turn their heads towards anything touching their face
- Open their mouth
- Clench their fists
- Put their hands in their mouth
Respond to these cues and feed the baby before it becomes too upset.
2. Your Baby Has A Dirty Nappy
Babies can only bear a wet diaper for so long. When it gets uncomfortable, they let you know. It starts with whiny, nasal, and short cries that become longer and more persistent.
It’s like the baby is initially pleasantly requesting a diaper change and then has had enough of the delay and is frustrated, demanding a change.
If the baby is crying intensely, check if they have a full or dirty diaper.
3. Your Baby Is Tired
Newborns sleep a lot. They need around 16-18 hours of sleep daily; some may even sleep for about 19 hours. As the baby grows, its sleep requirements will gradually decrease and adjust to 9-12 hours at the school-going age.
If the baby is tired, it will communicate through reflexes first. Look for yawning, jerky movements, closing their eyes, sucking their thumb, and putting their fist in their mouth. Experts suggest that one must look for these cues and initiate sleep by placing the baby in the crib or swaddling to avoid over-tiring them.
Older babies may even rub their eyes, and their heads will start drooping. Also note the baby’s sleep pattern, no matter how irregular.
Once overtired, the baby will make a breathy “ow” sound, which you can easily soothe. If you don’t attend to the baby, it will progress to short, soft whimpers that eventually become high-pitched crying.
4. Your Baby Is Overstimulated
Babies are too young to adjust to changing environments. Too many people in their room, people trying to hold them, extra lights, and new sounds can easily and quickly overstimulate them.
The baby will become fussy and will try to move their head or body away from the source of discomfort. It starts with fussy, low-tone crying that quickly escalates to shrieking if the stimulation remains. It also follows a rhythm—rising, falling, rising, similar to when a baby gasps for air or wind.
Look for sources that may stimulate your baby. Close the curtains, eliminate the noise, move away devices, or put on white noise to soothe the baby.
5. Your Baby Is Sick
Sick cries are easily recognizable as they are very different from normal crying, and the baby does not take any pauses. The crying starts with soft whimpers and can quickly escalate to high-pitched crying, especially if the illness is associated with pain. The baby may cry so much that their voice becomes hoarse.
Check for symptoms of fever, rashes, constipation, vomiting, or diarrhea. If the baby is inconsolable, consult with your doctor.
6. You Have A Colicky Baby
If a baby cries for more than three hours without any apparent reason, the baby is termed a “colic baby.” There are many theories about why a baby may have colic, but the exact cause remains unknown.
The symptoms start when the baby is only a few days old and last around three months. After three months, the baby usually outgrows the colic phase. The crying usually starts in the afternoon or evening and lasts for hours.
Being a parent to a colicky baby is very difficult as nothing you do seems to soothe the baby. The baby is fidgety, irritated, whiny, and cries with intense screams or wails.
7. Your Baby Is In Pain
A cry of pain is difficult to ignore and gives parents goosebumps. It is very scary, and staying relaxed after listening to these cries is almost impossible.
The baby will shriek a high-pitched cry that sounds piercing or grating. And as they feel waves of pain, the cries will increase or decrease in intensity. One study found that babies in pain close their eyes.
The pain may be due to trapped gas, constipation, ear infection, or a rash. You can try to burp the baby and look for signs of rashes. If your baby has not pooped in a few days, consult the pediatrician.
8. Your Baby Is Bored
While babies do not understand much, they still recognize company. And if you have the habit of constantly entertaining your baby, boredom may be one of the reasons why your baby is crying.
If this is so, your baby will seem fussy and restless and let out a low-toned whiny cry. It is the baby’s way of seeking attention and will quickly turn into laughter when you soothe it.
However, experts suggest that you give the baby some time to self-soothe and adapt to the environment. They may simply be intrigued by something in their crib or the immediate environment.