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Baby DevelopmentNewborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You

Congratulations on your newest bundle of joy! Whether it’s your first or nth time having a baby, this is an exhilarating time for most parents.

Yet, how can this be a wonderful moment when all your newborn does is cry? It can be nerve-wracking, but they don’t do these randomly.

Take better care of your newborns by learning the top 7 secret meanings behind their cries.

Help! My Newborn Is Crying: The Top 7 Reasons Why He’s Doing It

The first few weeks of caring for a newborn feel like an endless cycle of feed-sleep-cry. It can take a toll on those who are complete newbies to caring for babies.

Unlike older babies, crying may be the only clue to understanding their needs. If you don’t attend to these immediately, they can become more frustrated by the minute.

Whether you read books or attend baby care classes, all the information points you to these top 7 reasons behind a newborn’s cry. 

1. He’s Hungry

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You He's Hungry

Hunger is the most common reason for newborns crying. While you can follow the 2-3 hour feeding schedule as a guide, he may not follow it to a T.

This is because newborns have small stomachs. They can only hold a few milliliters of milk at a time before they start feeling hunger pangs again. The good news is that as the baby grows, their stomach capacity also increases. 

You may watch for the initial hunger cues your newborn is showing. But if you miss them, your newborn becomes fussier. Before you know it, they wail their hearts out.

A hunger cry typically starts as a short, low-pitched, rhythmic, or repetitive crying. At times, you may hear the “neh” sound formed by the baby’s tongue hitting the roof of the mouth (sucking reflex).

But don’t wait for your baby to cry before feeding him. Crying is a late sign of hunger, so give your newborn his milk while he’s showing early hunger signs.

2. Dirty or Wet Nappy

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Dirty or Wet Nappy

Another top reason your newborn is crying is a dirty or wet diaper. While each baby has different “wetness tolerances,” it’s not good to let them sit in dirty diapers for long.

After all, pee or poop are irritating to your newborn’s sensitive skin. Eventually, they can cause pain and burning, leading to a nappy rash. They may even develop urinary tract infections.

If wetness indeed is the reason, your newborn may start with a whiny, nasal-sounding cry. You can then correlate this with a quick peek or sniff at your baby’s diaper area. 

You can also use diapers with wetness indicators so you don’t have to undress your newborn when checking. 

3. Baby Needs a Burp

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Baby Needs a Burp

Burping, or trying to burp, is a sign there is air or “wind” in your newborn’s stomach. This usually happens after a feed. But other instances can make your baby swallow in the air, like sucking on a pacifier, hiccups, or crying.

Since “wind” in the stomach is uncomfortable, they’ll let you know by crying. But unlike a “neh” sound when hungry, you’ll hear an “eh” instead (like “egg” but with a silent “g”).

Other cues you can see when your newborn needs to burp include:

  • Kicking
  • Pained facial expression
  • Fussiness
  • Squirming

Try any known techniques for burping a baby, including the classic “over your shoulder” position.

You can also ask your husband’s or partner’s help — babies usually burp faster when done by them (proven and tested). 

4. Baby is Having Stomach Pain

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Baby is Having Stomach Pain

Now if you have burped your newborn and he’s still crying, he might be experiencing lower gas pain. Since your baby can’t burp this gas out, he needs to pass it out on the other end of the tube.

With my two babies, I notice them constantly crying paired with grunting sounds. Some may even hear the “eairh” sound with their cry. It almost sounds like they’re trying to start a bowel movement.

Their tummies also feel taut.

If you notice this kind of cry, please relieve them of their misery by doing some “I love you” and “bicycle” massages. Don’t do these massages if you have fed them recently, or you’ll make them spit up instead.

5. Your Baby is Tired

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Your Baby is Tired

Unlike adults, newborns haven’t learned the skill of sleeping as soon as their bodies hit the bed. Some may have a good bedtime routine (sleeping for 3-4 hours or more straight at night), while others can’t differentiate between night and day.

Regardless, their sleeping routines won’t become regular until they are 4 months old. This is because of their immature circadian (sleep-wake) rhythm.

Add that they can’t self-soothe themselves yet.

A “tired cry” is characterized as a high-pitched, nasal-sounding cry. You’ll also notice ear-pulling and outright crankiness.

Some may even make the “owh” sound when crying, almost like a yawn.

If this is the case (after making all the other checks), help your newborn sleep. Dimming the lights, swaying back and forth, or playing a lullaby, can lull your overtired baby to sleep.

You can also swaddle them to mimic the womb’s comforting environment.

6. Baby Wants to be with You

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Your Baby Wants to be with You

Newborns generally love being near and held by you. This is because they feel safe whenever they’re close to an adult they trust (mom and dad).

But if your newborn is a “velcro baby” (babies who are extra clingy and cry whenever they aren’t held), you might want to throw in the towel from sheer exhaustion. 

What worked for us was me leaving behind clothes I had worn so they could smell my scent on them. This especially works if you’re breastfeeding them. 

Babywearing can also help in these instances. Just make sure you’re using a wrap or a baby carrier that can properly support a newborn in it.

7. Your Newborn is Sick

Newborn Cry-sis: 7 Reasons Your Baby Is Trying to Tell You Your Newborn is Sick

Out of all the reasons for your newborn crying, being sick is one that should ring alarm bells for you.

Newborns, or neonates, medically speaking, are vulnerable to infections. But as they can’t tell you how they feel or where the pain is, all they can do is cry.

They cry incessantly and louder than the usual ones we hear from them. 

Apart from the cry, look for other signs of illness like fever, redness, swelling, or vomiting. 

Then bring your newborn straight to the pediatrician or the emergency room to have him checked.

Your Newborn Crying is an Opportunity to Connect!

Hearing your newborn cry can be distressing. But with practice, it becomes easier to tell what your baby is trying to say. 

Just like how your newborn is learning how to communicate with you, you are also learning your baby’s quirks and personality.

If it helps, refer to Priscilla Dunstan’s Baby Language guide to help you learn what babies say when they cry.

Before you know it, one cry is enough for you to know what your newborns want from you.

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