Since babies cannot talk, they communicate by crying. And deciphering the meaning when a baby cries is probably one of the hardest things you may have to do, especially as a new mom.
It is also hard for moms who have done it before, so before you break down and cry because you do not know what your baby’s cries means, know that you are not alone.
A baby can cry because they are bored, hurting, hungry, and many things in between. The key thing to note is that all these cries sound different.
So what’s the key to decoding baby cries? Technically, a bit of trial and error is a must before you can figure out what each type of cry means for your child.
That said there is a general cheat sheet based on some baby experts’ guidelines on what different cries mean and how they sound.
Types of Baby Cries
There are seven different types of baby cries:
1. The Hunger Cry
This cry is a rhythmic, low-pitched, and repetitive cry. Coupled with a tongue sucking motion, finger suckling, breast searching, and lip-smacking. To avoid having the baby trap gas, feed them as soon as you recognize the cry.
They may also spit up the food as they swallow too much air and it also prevents them from getting tired after crying for too long.
2. The Boredom Cry
This cry usually starts as a cooing sound and gets fussier when they do not get your attention. If not attended, this cry may turn into a full-on outburst of a incessant crying. The cry is usually not continuous, and it is punctuated with whimpers and coos in between.
The easiest way to handle this is to play with the baby, rock them, cuddle them, and soothe them until they stop crying. It will happen almost as soon as they get the attention they seek.
3. The Colic Cry
A Colicky baby cries a lot, and the cry sounds are loud and intense and usually accompanied by excessive fidgeting, and it can last for hours on end. It usually begins at the 6-week mark and can last until the baby is at four months old. Most colic outbursts happen from late afternoon into the evening hours.
Colic in babies is equivalent to bloating in adulthood. The easiest way to handle it is by giving the baby gripe water. However, it is better to save the gripe water for existential circumstances. You can lay their tummy on your palm and rub their back to soothe them or lay them on their back and push their knees up to their stomach in a gentle manner to try and release the gas.
4. The Sleepy Cry
This cry is usually intermittent and it is accompanied by deep breathing, and it sounds like the baby is helpless. It is easier to soothe a sleepy baby as compared to many of the other types of cries. Other signs of sleepiness include rubbing of the eyes, red-eyes, or closed puffy eyes.
To help the baby fall asleep swaddle them. Research shows that nine out of ten babies are comforted by swaddling. Do not swaddle the baby too tightly but also make sure the swaddle is like a burrito trying to keep all its contents together.
You may also put them down in a quiet place and let them fall asleep on their own.
5. The Sick Cry
A sick baby cries all day, and it sounds like they are whimpering like a wounded animal. This is because they are in pain and do not have the energy to cry loudly. The whimpers are usually nasally and may be accompanied by a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, constipation or other symptoms that may be out of the ordinary.
You should automatically know that something is wrong when you hear this cry. Follow your maternal instincts and take your baby to the doctor as soon as you can and don’t forget to take a mental note of all the other symptoms and mention them to the baby’s doctor.
6. The Uncomfortable Cry
You can tell that they are uncomfortable if the baby cries non stop. The cry sounds whiny and nasally. This cry is accompanied by yawning, rubbing of the eyes, ear tugging, trying to get out of their clothes, and tantrum-like behavior.
The discomfort may be as a result of a dirty diaper, too much heat, too much cold, an uncomfortable sitting or lying position, or the surrounding noise. Check to see if the diaper is dirty, and change it.
You may want to opt for cloth diapers from time to time as traditional diapers tend to cause skin reactions, especially if your baby has sensitive skin. Visit mommy blogs to find out what you should know about cloth diapers before you start using them.
If this does not help, try to figure out if they are too hot.
A general rule of thumb is to dress the baby as per your body temperature. Do not dress them up like an Eskimo when it is warm outside. You can also change their lying or sitting position to see if it helps.
7. The Agitated Cry
This cry is usually brought about by disturbing noises that are unfamiliar to the baby. It could be the dishwasher or vacuum noise of the sound of a car passing by. The cry is usually fussy and whiny.
To make the baby stop crying, remove them from the cause of stress. Turn on your white noise machine and rock them to calm them down.
What If You Can’t Decipher the Baby Cries?
There are cases where a baby cries for no reason whatsoever, and this tends to happen in the evening. It could be due to the increased commotion in the house, or they are wound up. It happens in 80-90% of all babies, so do not be alarmed.
Try not to get stressed out as hearing your baby crying can be heart-wrenching.
Take and break from time to time and enlist the help of seasoned moms. As soon as you decode your baby’s cries you will be good to go. And in no time you at all your little one will be talking and determining their needs will be much easier.
To learn more about hacking motherhood, visit our blog.