What Different Types Of Cries Mean In Babies?

by Sarah Hosseini

Deciphering a baby's cries can feel like trying to unlock a secret language. There's the blood curdling cries, the whimpers, and the relentless whines. Sometimes, all of the cries sound the same and you feel like crying in a closet yourself. As frustrating as a baby's crying can be it's essentially their way of talking to you. Babies cry to tell you about their wants, moods, fears, and possibly even pain. New moms looking for some answers (and relief) might wonder what different types of cries mean in babies?

Life would certainly be easier if everyone had a little insight into what these tiny humans were feeling and thinking (especially at night when everyone just wants to get some much needed shut eye). I know when my babies would cry sometimes I'd just go down the list of possibilities blindly and desperately: Is the diaper wet? Nope. Did the pacifier fall out of the crib? Nope.Hungry? Yes. Just trying to figure it all out, and often in the middle of the night, was exhausting and overwhelming. But had I just listened more closely and observed my baby's surroundings I might've been able to solve the problem faster rather than trying everything in my bag of baby soothing tricks. Here are six ways to decode a baby's cries.


Rhythmic Crying Means Baby Is Hungry

According to What to Expect, a rhythmic and repetitive cry generally means hunger. Another article on the same site further explained that if the the cry sounds like "neh" sound that's a sign of hunger. The sound comes from the baby trying to suck and putting their tongue at the roof of their mouth. If the baby is also sucking on their fingers or going for your breast, you most likely have a hungry, or rather "hangry" baby.

The site suggested that the best thing to do is respond to the hungry cry as quickly as possible so as to avoid having the baby getting more worked up and gulping down their milk (and taking in a bunch of air leading to gas).


High Pitched Shrieks Means Baby Is In Pain

You probably know this cry because you never forget it. It's the kind of cry that pierces your ears and sends shivers up your spine.

An article in Parents magazine explained that in the case of gas pain this cry can sometimes be accompanied by a baby arching their back or grunts. This type of cry can also be experienced when a baby gets a vaccine shot. These cries are usually quite fierce, but ultimately short lived. In these cases parents are encouraged to quickly pick up their babies, rock them, or use a pacifier.

If the baby is unsoothable the same site suggested that parents try to look for what may be causing this type of cry in their baby.


A Whiny Cry That Builds Up Means Baby Is Tired

If your baby has this whiny, nasaly cry that builds intensity, What To Expect, explained that is most likely tired cries. Your baby has probably had enough of whatever activity they've been doing and need to take a nap. Another article on the same What To Expect site also noted that the sleepy cry will sound like "owh" and look like a yawn.


Fussy Baby Cries Indicate Baby Is Bored

If your baby starts to fuss and isn't tired or hungry and has been sitting in a baby seat or on the floor with some toys while you make dinner - chances are they're just bored. Web MD suggested that parents turn the baby if they're in an infant seat or carrier or give the baby a new toy to touch.


Constant Cries May Be A Sign Of Colic

If a baby is crying for three or more hours, for three or more nights a week and they're under three months old, Parents magazine indicated it could be a sign of colic. Colic can be hard to officially diagnose and Web MD noted that there is no cause defined yet. But ask any parent that's had a colicky baby and they will tell you how difficult and relentless it is. The parent feels bad for the baby, feels bad for themselves and other family members in the house impacted by the extended crying periods. Some suggestions for trying to soothe a colicky baby include swing the baby, swaddle, or offering the baby something to suck

Even if the crying tunnel of babyhood seems to have no end, it's important to remember that babies eventually gain some communication skills outside of crying. For now the biggest thing you can do is observe your baby as much as possible, try to pick up on what they're telling you, and respond the best way you can.