Why Do Babies Cry?

Babies cry. 

A lot.

There’s no way around this, and it’s essential your baby does cry. Crying is the only way your bundle of joy can communicate their needs – like feeling upset, hungry or demanding attention.

While it can be remarkably frustrating, especially if the wailing goes on throughout the night, think how it must feel for your baby. They are trying to tell you what they want, without the power of words to help them.

New parents need plenty of patience, but also an understanding of the specific reasons babies cry. Being aware of the underlying cause can help you to soothe and bond with your baby. To make your life easier, today we’ll outline 10 of the most common reasons babies cry.

1) Hunger

Babies have tiny stomachs that can’t hold too much, so they need continual sustenance.

In a short space of time, your baby can go from feeling full to, literally, crying out for food.

Usually, when a baby is hungry and trying to alert you to this, the crying is rhythmic and tends to be low-pitched. Crying can be accompanied by a distinctive sound, as the tongue hits the roof of the mouth in search of food.

Even if it seems like you’ve only just fed your baby, don’t overlook hunger if you hear those repetitive cries. You can also watch out for early signs of hunger, including sucking of hands and lip-smacking. By the time your baby cries, they are already feeling famished.

2) Feeling Over-Tired

why babies cry tiny feet

Since the circadian rhythms of babies don’t kick in for several months, it takes time for them to become accustomed to sleeping. Sleep, after all, is a learned skill, and your baby hasn’t had much time to learn it yet.

Crying is particularly common when your baby is overtired. It signals frustration at an inability to drop off, even though they are exhausted.   

The best advice we can give is to allow a sleepy baby to sleep, whatever the time of day. Rather than assuming a daytime nap will negatively impact sleeping at night, capitalize on this opportunity, and let your baby get some rest.

3) Time for a Nappy Change

If your baby’s nappy is dirty, they have no way of alerting you to this except for crying out.

Many nappies come with an inbuilt wetness indicator. It prevents you from having to unfasten the nappy if you suspect your baby crying is due to discomfort from a soiled nappy.

4) Needs Reassurance and Cuddle

All babies need plenty of cuddling. If you hear your baby crying, but they don’t appear hungry, and you’re sure their nappy isn’t full, try pulling them close to you for some simple reassurance, and see if that pays dividends.

5) Temperature: Too Hot or Too Cold

You may have felt too hot or cold during pregnancy yourself so you can remember how uncomfortable that feels. As a rule of thumb, your baby will need to wear one more layer of clothing than you to feel comfortable.

Babies are particularly sensitive to temperature, and if they feel either too hot or too cold, they’re likely to start wailing to convey this message to you.

Nappy change time and bath time are flashpoints as babies become accustomed to the feel of cold air on their skin.

Always ask yourself if your baby is feeling too hot or too cold when they cry.

6) Crying Out for Burping

If crying kicks in either during or immediately after a feed, it’s highly likely your baby has wind and needs burping. Sometimes all that milk can fill a belly so quickly!

Pat your baby gently or rub their back and see if this eases the crying.

7) Teething Time

Teething can start at any time from 4 months. Once it begins, you can pretty much guarantee your baby will start crying more.

Try massaging your baby’s gums gently and use some special teethers to help reduce discomfort.

8) Too Much Stimulation

While babies tend to love playing, faces and mirrors, sometimes they might need a little quiet time. The world is new for your baby, and it’s not uncommon for sensory overload to take effect.

Maybe, you’ve got lots of visitors, all keen to hold your precious bundle of joy, or the outside environment suddenly seems too much for them.

Stimulation is a good thing, so don’t panic if your baby starts crying for seemingly no reason. Chances are, they might just be feeling like everything is all a bit much.

9) Sickness

If your baby doesn’t feel well, crying will obviously increase in frequency (and usually in volume!)

Check for symptoms like fever, vomiting or failing to gain weight. It goes unsaid you should always monitor your baby’s health closely so remain vigilant at all times.

10) Colic

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, colic is defined as a healthy baby crying for over 3 hours a day, on more than 3 days of the week, for more than 3 consecutive weeks.

There’s some good news, though. Colic is usually fleeting and is often just a newborn baby trying to get used to all that’s unfolding around them. It’s a new and bewildering world, and they are experiencing it for the first time.

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