What Your Baby’s Cries May Tell You

Whether it’s because he’s hungry, tired, or just trying to get your attention, it’s true that every baby’s cry has a reason.

Here are a few of the reasons why your baby may be crying, and how you can soothe him.

He’s energetic
Believe it or not, when babies have excess energy that they need to get rid of so they can return to feeling normal, it’s not uncommon for them to cry it out. You may notice that your baby gets fussy around certain times of day, even if he’s already been fed and he’s not uncomfortable or tired. If, after these emotional outbursts, your baby appears alert or takes a contented nap, you can probably bet that he simply wanted to release some of his pent-up energy.

Unfortunately, when it comes to this type of baby’s cries, there’s not much you can do to help him. Rest assured, though, if your baby is crying to release some energy, he’ll come out on the other side acting like a whole new baby.

He’s hungry
Most “I’m hungry” cries can be distinguished from the others because they tend to be short and low-pitched, rising and falling through its duration. If your baby is crying in this manner, try feeding him to see if that will help.

He’s angry
If your baby’s cries are more turbulent, he could be angry. Try adjusting the way you’re holding your baby, or picking him up if he’s currently lying down. A shift in his momentum may get him to snap out of his little tantrum.

He’s in pain
Sudden, loud, and high-pitched shrieks, followed by long pauses and then flat wails, generally tend to indicate that your child is in pain. If you hear this type of cry coming from your baby, check for anything that may be causing him discomfort.

He wants to be left alone
Sure, your baby’s adorable and you want to cuddle with him 24 hours a day. That doesn’t mean he’s game for all that attention, though. An “I need to be left alone” sob will probably sound a bit like a hunger cry. If you’ve just finished feeding your newborn and he’s giving his short, low-pitched cry, he may just need some quiet time alone.

He has colic
If your infant has regular fussy periods, most commonly between 6 p.m. and midnight, he could be dealing with colic. Babies with colic will intensify their cries throughout the day, cry inconsolably, and often extend or pull their legs and pass gas. Approximately one out of five babies develops colic. Unfortunately, there is no exact explanation why.

If you believe your baby might have colic, you can try eliminating potentially irritating foods from your diet (if you’re breastfeeding), like milk products, caffeine, and onions. Or introduce a pacifier, which can sometimes bring relief to babies with colic. Swaddling and laying your baby on his stomach while gently rubbing his back sometimes helps to relieve the pressure as well. For more ideas, consult your pediatrician.

A few other potential remedies for crying babies include:

  • Rocking and swaying
  • Swaddling
  • Car ride
  • Rhythmic noise or vibrations
  • Warm baths
  • Burping

As you and your baby bond over the first few months of his life, you’ll come to recognize your baby’s cries more quickly, which means you’ll be able to remedy them and get your happy, smiling baby back in no time.