Why Do Babies Cry?

Babies are very tiny and fragile and are completely dependent on their parents and caretakers for their survival. From the very first breath that they take, babies cry. Crying for babies is a means for talking to their parents to let them know about their needs. As they grow up, babies learn other methods to communicate with their parents like smiling at them, making different noises, making eye contact and hitting their parents with their fists to get their attention. So it is necessary for parents to try and understand the different cries of their child in the initial stages of its life so that they can better understand their needs and tend to them. Some common reasons due to which babies cry are –

  • They’re hungry

Hunger is the most common reason for which babies cry, especially when they are newborns. The younger the babies are, the more likely it is that they are hungry.

Since baby’s have small stomachs, they can’t hold much in it and have to thus feed often. In this case they must be offered to feed again either from the breast or from the bottle even if it seems like their previous feed was not so long ago. This is known as responsive feeding.

  • They have colic

Colicky babies are those that cry incessantly even when they are otherwise healthy. These babies generally clench their fists, draw up their knees, or arch their backs while crying with a flushed face. There are no known causes of colic and doctors think that it may be caused due to an upset stomach or allergies to something in the breast milk.

Taking care of a colicky baby is stressful and sometimes the parents might feel depressed that they are not being good parents but it is very normal phenomenon and gradually goes away with time. In case the baby doesn’t calm down even after trying to soothe it for long hours then it is suggested that they be taken to the doctor.

  • They want to be held

Babies generally need a lot of physical comfort from their parents in the form of hugs and cuddles; so crying can also mean that they just want to be cuddled and held by their parents. Holding the baby close to the heart makes them feel the warmth of the mother’s body and brings them a soothing effect. Swaying and singing to the baby while holding it also helps it to calm down.

  • They’re tired and need rest

When babies get too tired, they find it hard to sleep and become fussy and cry at the slightest thing; at times they might even become too quiet and stare blankly into space. This might happen when they get too much attention from visitors or are swayed and rocked too much. These babies can be taken to a quiet room after feeding and be put to sleep gently and get some much-needed rest.

  • They’re too cold or too hot

If the temperature of the room which the baby occupies or if they are overdressed or underdressed, babies might feel too warm or too cold. In this situation the temperature of the baby can be determined by touching their tummy or the back of their neck. Temperature should not be determined by the feel of their palms and feet as they are generally colder than the rest of the body. Keeping the temperature of the room between 16-20ºC and dressing them appropriately can help them calm down.

  • They need their nappy changed

Most babies become fussy when they have peed or pooped in their nappies and start wailing as soon as they feel the wetness in their buttocks. Some babies don’t start crying unless their skin feels irritated. Changing the nappy for these babies calms them down. But there are instances where the babies become fussy and cry as they don’t want their nappy changed because they don’t like to get the strange feeling of cold air on their skin. Distracting the baby with toys and songs while changing the nappy can distract them and let the parents do their work.

  • They don’t feel well

When babies are unwell, their cries are different from usual; they can be weaker, more urgent, continuous and high-pitched. In some instances, the babies which usually cry a lot, become quiet when they’re feeling poorly. These signs should be identified by the parents and the child should be taken to a doctor as soon as possible. If the baby is not able to breathe properly while crying, it should be immediately taken to the doctor.

  • The baby doesn’t stop crying even after trying most tricks

When it seems that the baby is inconsolable even after cuddling or feeding, the following tips can be tried to calm the baby down.

  • Playing constant sounds like the heartbeat, sounds of the washing machines and vacuum cleaner or white noise (sounds with varied frequencies).
    • Rocking and swaying the baby while walking around, in a rocking chair or in a baby swing
    • Massaging or tummy rubs using unscented oils or cream help with digestion and helps to soothe the baby
    • Trying different positions while feeding might calm down babies who cry during or after feeds
    • Allowing the baby to suck on a pacifier or its own thumb after cleaning the thumb can comfort it. Breastfeeding babies can be allowed to suckle the breast for comfort.
    • If the baby likes to bathe, then it can be given a warm and soothing bath for comfort.

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