The sound of your baby’s cries is something you’ll quickly become used to, but the reasons behind them aren’t always as easy to recognise
Your baby can’t talk. But that doesn’t mean he can’t ask for what he wants – crying is a handy tool for that. Understanding what he’s trying to tell you can be the key to keeping you both happy and calm. It’s just about working out his crying code.
He’s crying because… he’s hungry
Hunger is one of the most common reasons why your baby cries, so this should be the first thing to consider. Newborn babies have such a tiny tummy that they can need hourly feeds, so it might seem like you’ve only just finished feeding him when he starts crying for more. This problem will fade as you settle into a routine and he gets older.
He’s crying because… he’s uncomfortable
It might be that he needs burping as he hasn’t settled after his feed or that he’s in an uncomfortable position, so don’t panic and try different things until you work out the cause. ‘Parents will start to learn the natural sound of their baby’s cry,’ says midwife Catherine Chmiel. ‘But when a baby’s in pain it’ll sound very different – more like a high-pitched shrill.’
Colic, gas and reflux can all also cause your baby discomfort which results in excessive amounts of crying – speak to your GP about the best way to treat them.
He’s crying because… he’s tired
When a baby is overtired he is actually more likely to cry and fuss instead of falling asleep. A tired cry is normally very loud and cranky, but often fades away as he falls asleep. Try rocking him and making soothing noises as you settle him in his crib.
He’s crying because… he needs changing
There’s nothing like a dirty nappy to make your baby cry, so put this one up there as one of the first things to check. Looking down the back of his nappy is a quick way to work it out. Some will cry straight away and others will wait a while before letting you know they need changing. Either way, at least these are easy tears to dry.
He’s crying because… he wants a cuddle
In the first few weeks of your little one’s life, he will want a lot of your attention, so enjoy lots of lovely skin to skin contact and try to interact and talk to him as much as possible – this will help soothe him. ‘All babies are different and some crave close contact with their parents more than others,’ says Catherine. ‘Your crying little one might just be trying to let you know that he wants a cuddle.’
Remember that newborn babies are used to being in the womb, so for the few months of his life swaddling might also make him feel more secure.
He’s crying because… he’s too hot
Check your baby’s temperature – he might be trying to tell you that he’s too hot or too cold. Newborns are more likely to cry when they’re too cold as they’re used to being warm and snuggled in the womb. That’s why he may fuss when you’re changing his nappy. Your baby will usually be comfortable temperature-wise wearing one more layer than you do.
He’s crying because… he’s overstimulated
Babies are surprisingly good at picking up on tension, so those arguments that come with the stresses of being new parents might be the reason behind his tears.
Or, he could simply need a break from all that passing around or playing games. We all need a little space sometimes, so just try backing off while he calms down.