Babies – Tips For Understanding What Different Cries Mean

By Milla Krogh

A crying baby should always be taken seriously and should never be ignored. Crying is the only way the baby can communicate a real need. But sometimes it can be very difficult to find out why your baby is crying. You seem to have done everything, but still the baby is crying. This article will explain some of the main reasons why babies are crying.

As you and your baby grows to know each other better, you will get better at understanding, and meeting your baby’s need. A baby needs to be and feel understood, and reacting to the crying is the best way to make your baby feel understood. This way the baby learns to communicate; making aware of a need, making a need recognized, getting a need satisfied, and finally feeling better again.

Here are some suggestions of why your baby could be crying:

Hunger or Thirst:

The baby is crying because it is hungry or thirsty. The baby is not familiar with the feelings of being hungry or full and does not know time. All it knows is discomfort. If a baby wakes up after a long sleep it will be hungry, if it wakes up after a short sleep it might be thirsty. A hungry child will often cry very loud and will not be soothed until it is given milk.

Need for sucking:

A baby is born with a natural need for sucking that is usually satisfied during feeding. But a baby does not only suck in order to get food, it is also soothing and relaxing for the child. It is well-known that babies suck their fingers already when inside the womb and some babies are born with a greater need for sucking than others. So sucking does not always mean that the baby is hungry, and some babies need to continue sucking after a meal to relax and digest, and some need it to relax and fall asleep. Therefore, a baby that is full and ignoring your attempt to soothe its crying might need to suck and will be satisfied with a pacifier.


A baby does not always fall asleep when it is tired. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the necessary peace to actually drift into sleep, and the baby will react with unrest, crying and general dissatisfaction. A baby gets a lot of stimulation during the day and will need rest to digest all the impressions of the day. Therefore, it might reject contact by turning the head away and avoiding eye contact. A baby that is getting too tired will start with grumpiness, eye rubbing and yawning. If there is no reaction to these signs of tiredness, or if the baby is too tensed to find rest, then the baby will start crying louder. The best thing you can do is to help your baby find rest and support it to fall asleep.

Need for body contact:

A baby will cry if it feels abandoned and lonely. It needs to be held, cuddled, and carried. From the womb, the baby has been used to being squeezed inside your belly and every move has been met with resistance as the baby has been surrounded. The baby has been used to the constant sound of its mother’s breath and voice and the rocking movements. A baby that needs body contact will not necessarily cry very loud and it will stop crying when you hold it in your arms.

Need for clean diaper:

Some babies react to a wet diaper, and others don’t. Some babies don’t like to be naked and will cry loud when getting undressed. Maybe the baby does not like when you pull the clothes over the head. Other babies enjoy lying naked being cuddled and cared for. If your baby does not like to be naked, try putting a towel or small blanket above while changing the diaper. This might give the baby a feeling of comfort.


A baby that has been fed and cleaned after a nap can actually cry out of boredom. This means that the baby wants some activity and stimulation. It wants to be talked to, played with, sung to. It loves to study your face and watch your mouth move while talking or singing. A baby that is bored will not cry out loud but will make grumpy sounds in order to get your attention. It will also experiment with its own voice, so sometimes you will hear breaks in the crying – maybe your baby heard its own voice and got fascinated with the sound.


Finally, a baby will of course cry if it experiences pain. A baby can suffer from many different kinds of pain, but the most common are stomach ache, ear ache, or head ache. A baby in pain will most often scream loud without breaks and will be impossible to comfort. During stomach aches the baby will pull its legs up under its body and have cramped movements. If there is ear ache the child will cry after lying down for a short time. A child with pain should always be seen by a doctor or physician and in this case it is better to be safe than sorry.

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