does my baby cry?
Simply put, babies cry because they cannot talk. Babies are
human beings, and they have needs and desires, just as we
do, but they can’t express them. Even if they could
talk, very often they wouldn’t understand why they feel
the way they do, they wouldn’t understand themselves
well enough to articulate their needs, so babies need someone
to help them figure it all out. Their cries are the only way
they can say, “Help me! Something isn’t right
kinds of cries
As you get to know your baby, you’ll become the expert
in understanding his cries in a way that no one else can.
In their research, child development professionals have determined
that certain types of cries mean certain things. In other
words, babies don’t cry the same exact way every time.
(Other child development experts, also known as mothers, have
known that for millennia.)
time, you’ll recognize particular cries as if they were
spoken words. In addition to these cry signals, you often
can determine why your baby is crying by the situation surrounding
the cry. Following are common reasons for Baby’s cry,
and the clues that may tell you what’s up:
Hunger: If three or four hours have passed since his last feeding,
if he has just woken up, or if he has just had a very full
diaper and he begins to cry, he’s probably hungry. A
feeding will most likely stop the crying.
Look for these signs: decreased activity, losing interest
in people and toys, rubbing eyes, looking glazed, and the
most obvious - yawning If you notice any of these in your
crying baby, she may just need to sleep. Time
Discomfort: If a baby is uncomfortable - too wet, hot, cold, squished
- he’ll typically squirm or arch his back when he cries,
as if trying to get away from the source of his discomfort.
Try to figure out the source of his distress and solve his
Pain: A cry of pain is sudden and shrill, just like when an adult
or older child cries out when they get hurt. It may include
long cries followed by a pause during which your baby appears
to stop breathing. He then catches his breath and lets out
another long cry. Time to check your baby’s temperature
and undress him for a full-body examination.
Overstimulation: If the room is noisy, people are trying to get your baby’s
attention, rattles are rattling, music boxes are playing,
and your baby suddenly closes her eyes and cries (or turns
her head away), she may be trying to shut out all that’s
going on around her and find some peace. It’s time for
a quiet, dark room and some peaceful cuddles.
Illness: When your baby is sick, he may cry in a weak, moaning way.
This is his way of saying, “I feel awful.” If
your baby seems ill, look for any signs of sickness, take
her temperature and call your healthcare provider.
Frustration: Your baby is just learning how to control her hands, arms,
and feet. She may be trying to get her fingers into her mouth
or to reach a particularly interesting toy, but her body isn’t
cooperating. She cries out of frustration, because she can’t
accomplish what she wants to do. All she needs is a little
Loneliness: If your baby falls asleep feeding and you place her in her
crib, but she wakes soon afterward with a cry, she may be
saying that she misses the warmth of your embrace and doesn’t
like to be alone. A simple situation to resolve…
or fear: Your baby suddenly finds himself in
the arms of Great Aunt Matilda and can’t see you; his
previously happy gurgles turn suddenly to crying. He’s
trying to tell you that he’s scared: He doesn’t
know this new person, and he wants Mommy or Daddy. Explain
to Auntie that he needs a little time to warm up to someone
new, and try letting the two of them get to know each other
while Baby stays in your arms.
Boredom: Your baby has been sitting in his infant seat for 20 minutes
while you talk and eat lunch with a friend. He’s not
tired, hungry or uncomfortable, but he starts a whiny, fussy
cry. He may be saying that he’s bored and needs something
new to look at or touch. A new position for his seat or a
toy to hold may help.
This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)