real life

What your baby's cries actually mean.

So, your baby’s crying is vibrating through your skull…

It’s taken you just a matter of days to recognise the fact your newborn has a number of different cries. There’s the soft whimpering, the persistent wail, the short and sharp cry and the epic, earth-moving screech. But what on earth do they mean and more importantly, how do you make your baby happy so they stop?

It may come as a shock to many, but babies don’t cry just to annoy you. They want something, and don’t have any words they can use to communicate those needs. All they can do is cry and wait for you to figure it out. It could be food they’re after, a cuddle, a nappy change or a big bottle of warm milk. Or my favourite – the cry they do to just let off steam. This could be due to a change in their schedule or because they were subjected to too many visitors at once.

Once you begin to be able to recognise the different cries, you just have to try and interpret them. This gets easier as you get used to their preferred schedule.

You can almost hear the cry just looking at this, can't you?

An article by Young Parents Magazine gives you a head start on interpreting your baby's cries. Writer Sasha Gonzales says, "Each form of crying, which can last for a couple of minutes or go on for hours, is an indication of a problem that he is experiencing."

For example:

"I'm Hungry."

This cry tends to be loud and repetitive. The crying may be mixed in with foraging for food and a bit of gum-smacking.

I used to always try and preempt my baby's cries once their routines were established. I got to know the whimper they did as they roused from sleep ready for food. If I could get in there quickly and start feeding them, the full cry would never happen. This was much easier to do while breastfeeding my second and third child but impossible with my first-born who was bottle fed. I got pretty quick at preparing bottles, just not quick enough.


"I'm Frightened."

This cry, which is immediate and incredibly loud, will usually begin less than a second after a door slams or someone yells. It is pretty much the same as the "I'm In Pain" cry.

My dad has an incredibly loud voice and it's a source of constant amusement that a cough, sneeze or even a single word of greeting from him (similar in sound to the rumbling of thunder) causes all babies in a 50 metre radius to burst out in hysterical sobs.

Oh look, someone's just had his bottle.

"I'm Sick"

This cry covers anything out of the ordinary and seemingly endless. Dr Simon Ng from Babies and Children Specialist Clinic at Mount Alvernia Hospital told Young Parents:

If your bub has been crying non-stop for more than an hour, then he is likely to be in pain or unwell. This type of crying is also loud, intense and frantic. Look out for symptoms of illness, such as fever, vomiting, coughing, diarrhea or constipation.

This is always the safest thing to do whenever you are uncertain and now that there are so many excellent at-home doctor services like 13 SICK (7425) available, this easier to do than ever before.

Another I'd like to add is:

"I'm Not Comfortable"

This is a feeble cry and the cutest of them all. This normally occurs when they have a wet nappy or are too hot or too cold and it is probably the easiest to address.

Okay, I'd better stop now because I'm getting clucky. Babies are so cute!

What other baby cries would you add to this list? Were you good at interpreting your baby's cries or did you find it difficult?

Want more? Try:

Parents, not babies, need sleep training.

"Why my daughter won't have sugar before she turns 3."

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