Understanding Baby Talk: Can You Decipher Your Baby’s Cries?

Last update on Aug. 17, 2016.

Understanding Baby Talk: Can You Decipher Your Baby’s Cries?

For first-time parents, every baby cry seems like a huge siren. You instinctively want to comfort your new bundle of joy, so if she starts crying you tend to run to her, pick her up and start trying to soothe her. And if she keeps crying for the next 15-20 minutes or longer, it’s usually a “code red” no matter where you are.

Is she in pain? Is she hungry? Is she tired?

All of the questions and concerns that flash through your mind are completely normal. Babies cry. Parents worry. But if you put it into perspective, you can actually understand cries and it may help you evaluate the situation at-hand and ease it more effectively.

Think about crying as a form of communication, not a loud, scary form of impending doom! Babies don’t talk, so crying is their language. Smiling and cooing let’s you know they are happy. That’s pretty easy. Crying let’s you know something is amiss. If you take a moment to listen to the cries you’ll notice they vary in sound and speed.

This isn’t a fail proof method, but it worked for me over time. When my son (who often had bouts with colic as a newborn) would cry, I taught myself how to stay calm and listen instead of shift into panic mode. When I had my second son three years later, the crying didn’t rattle me like it did when I was a new mom. Hey, it’s worth a try, right?

Hungry Cry

A cry of “I’m hungry, mom!” tends to have a “neh neh neh” or “nah nah nah” sound. Kind of like a lamb bleating. It’s also unrelenting and fairly desperate. If it’s been two hours since your baby ate last, she could definitely be hungry again. Newborns eat a lot! I couldn’t believe how much my first son ate when he was little. I felt like I was nursing him constantly – and I was!

Pain Cry

This is one of those cries that can definitely push your inner panic button. A cry of pain is usually high-pitched and grating. If your baby is sitting or resting comfortably and suddenly cries out, that could be gas pains or digestive discomfort.
Obviously you want to scan your baby to make sure she hasn’t hurt herself somehow, but chances are it’s gas-related. That’s why it’s nice to have Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops nearby, because you can quickly soothe her grumpy tummy.

Needs to Burp Cry

If your baby has recently eaten and starts with a cry that sounds like “eh-eh-eh” or “uh-uh-uh” that could mean she needs to burp. It’s like a message of “I’m uncomfy, mom!” because it’s not high-pitched and loud like a shriek from gas, but it’s constant and repetitive. I heard this cry from my first son A LOT. The better we got at efficiently burping him before and after meals, the less we heard this particular cry.

Tired Cry

This cry is pretty easy to determine because your baby may yawn or rub her eyes right in the middle of it. She’s tired! This cry sounded like fussing to me, because it was a low, intermittent cry. If she’s been awake for 90 minutes, it’s possible she it tired again. If your baby is crying because she’s overtired, this is when swaddling it a great way to quickly soothe her and help her fall asleep [LINK TO SWADDLE ARTICLE]

Plain Old Crying

While we can do our very best to figure out why cries mean, sometimes there’s nothing we can do. Your baby just cries, because she’s a baby. That’s what babies do. This is why we discuss colic so often. Long crying fits, especially at night, are very tough to deal with on many levels – emotionally and physically. That’s why products like Little Remedies Gripe Water are considered a must-have. It’s the fastest, easiest way to calm crying and soothe your baby.

Remember, all babies cry! If you're feeling frazzled because your baby has colic, you're not alone. Hang in there, mama!