Every parent is struggling to understand what the baby is trying to tell them? Specially with the newborn and when it is your first one. Then it indeed may seem to be a little difficult to interpret the cause of the cry. Here I have listed the main reasons why babies usually cry. If your child is crying and you can’t figure out what is bothering him or her, you can work through the points listed below individually. Probably the child’s concern is one of them.
This is probably the first thing your thoughts move on when your baby cries. In the long run, you will learn about your baby’s hunger signals and feed them before he/she events starts. Newborn babies often express hunger by, for example, shivering, licking their lips, looking head-to-head in their chest and putting their hands in their mouths.
Some babies will immediately alert you to a nappy change. Others may suffer from a wet diaper for an extended period of time.
In any case, this concern is easy to control and easy to alleviate
Aren’t babies lucky? When they are tired, they can just fall asleep – anytime, anywhere. Yes, sure. At least that’s how adults like to think but in reality, it is more difficult for them than we can possibly imagine. Instead of simply falling asleep, babies can become agitated, especially when they are over tired.
Need for proximity
Babies need a lot of cuddling. They like to see the faces of their parents, hear their voices and hear their heartbeat. Babies can even recognize their mom and dad for their unique scents. Crying can be a way for a child to ask to be cuddled.
You may feel like pampering your baby by constantly holding your lap, but for the first couple of months this is not possible. To give your hands a little rest, you can use a baby carrier bag or sling (will make a separate post for that later on).
Abdominal discomfort (gases, colic, etc.)
Gas or colic stomach problems can cause a lot of crying. In fact, one of the definitions of this mysterious condition of colic is the incessant cry for at least three hours a day, at least three days a week for three consecutive weeks.
If your baby is often restless and cries immediately after feeding, it may be due to the stomach pain. Many parents have found a solution to the over-the-counter baby gas. It is certainly wise to consult with your family doctor before administering any medication to your baby.
Even if the baby has no colic and is never restless after feeding, he or she may occasionally develop stomach gases that cause pain in the stomach. Then the child is restless until his or her gas is expelled. If you suspect your child has them, you can use simplest ways to eliminate them – for example, put your child on his back, keep his feet up and make gentle “cycling” movements so that the gas would come out. Warm bath before the nap and after that using a baby massage oil is the best way. Our favourite was Weleda Baby Tummy Oil.
Need to burp!
Making your baby burp after feeding is optional. However, when a child is crying after feeding, her luck may be missing just a little belching.
When breastfeeding or eating from a feeding bottle, babies swallow a lot of air and, if the air cannot escape, it can cause discomfort. Some babies are severely upset by swallowed air and others may not belch or need croaking at all. There are many ways of how to make a baby burp and this worked for us the best.
Put baby in sitting position, supporting the chest with the base of your hand. Hold from the chin with thumb and index finger. Et voila!
Too cold or too hot
If your baby is cool – for example, when you undress, change his/her diaper, or clean his/her butt with a cool wet napkin – he/she may cry out.
Newborns want to be wrapped properly and be warm – but not too warm. As a general rule, a newborn baby needs one layer of clothing more than you wear to stay warm. Babies may not protest as feverishly as they do against colds, but excessive heat can make the child’s mind bitter.
Something that you won’t think of
Babies can be distracted by subtle little things, like the hair curled around their finger, which stops the blood from circulating (this is the first thing doctors check if the baby seems to be crying without cause). Luckily I have dark hair and it would have been visible. Toes should be checked every day and specially when you have some long hair pets as well.
Some babies are extremely sensitive to small things – like rough fabric or a label sewn on the inside of a blouse, which feels uncomfortable against the skin. I cut all the labels inside as I do it for my own clothes as well. In addition, the baby may be distracted by something such as the position in which they are put. Sometimes changing the babies location would help.
Tooth growth can cause pain to the baby if each new tooth penetrates the delicate young gums. Luckily we don’t remember this pain when we are grown ups, but it can be really painful. Some babies suffer more than others, but at some point, the appearance of teeth is likely to make any baby restless and/or unhappy.
If you see your child in pain and you can’t tell why, try using a (clean it well before!) finger to touch his/her gums. To your great surprise, you may discover that a small pungent tooth has appeared under the gum, which is about to intersect.
On average, the first tooth cuts sometime during the 4th and 7th month of life, but it can happen earlier. There are many tooth pain relief options which I would write about in another post.
Wants less stimulation
Babies learn from the stimulation of the world around them, but sometimes they have difficulty processing the information they gather – light, different sounds, moving from one lap to another lap. Crying can be a one way for your baby to say “please stop!”
Many newborns enjoy when you wrap them tightly in a cocoon and keep them close to you. It’s their way of feeling safe when the big world around them gets too tiring. If your baby is too old to be wrapped in a blanket or does not like it, try isolating from the stimulating environment and moving the baby to a quieter room to “vent” and calm down.
Wants more stimulation
A “demanding” baby may be more sociable and more interested in experiencing the world around him/her. In this case, the only way to stop baby from crying and/or being anxious is to keep him in action. But it can get exhausting for you!
If you need your hands free, then I suggest to try carry bag (ergonomic!) or sling and do your everyday tasks, let the baby explore what mommy is doing. Get some fresh air and go for a walk with the stroller, either in the park or close to your home. Meet other babies and friends and spend time in child-friendly places. Go for swim or mother/baby work outs. There are plenty of things what to do together.
Not feeling well
If you have satisfied and comforted your child’s basic needs, but crying has not stopped, there may be some disease. In this case, it is worth measuring your child’s body temperature to rule out fever and to be alert to any signs of other illnesses.
A crying child who is sick is usually quite easy to distinguish from crying due to hunger or frustration. If your baby’s crying “doesn’t sound right”, trust your instincts and call your family doctor or have your baby examined by a doctor just in case.