A baby is only able to express themselves in one way and that is to cry. A new mother will quickly learn to decipher her baby’s cries and will almost instinctively know what each cry means and how to respond to the tone of the cry. However, since mothering is not a science, there will come a time when a new mom will be unable to figure out the type of sob and will be at her wit’s end as she feels that she hasn’t been able to determine her baby’s needs. Although babies appear to have definite cries – there are some days when a baby will just be fussy.
For the most part, a crying baby will have a different tone or type of cry for a different need. The needs of a baby are relatively simple to figure out and their wails may indicate hunger, sleepiness, discomfort or pain.
The hungry cry
The -feed me’ cry is often accompanied by a baby sucking on their fists or making a sucking face – where their little lips or mouths are pouted. Moms may even hear their babies sucking before they wake up! The hungry cry tends to start out relatively softly at first (often sounding like a meowing kitten), but the longer baby is made to wait for their food, the more desperate and louder the cries will become.
The sleepy cry
The sleepy cry is usually coupled with a yawn, or with baby rubbing his or her eyes. The cry tends to be quite a long, drawn out cry and often sounds like moaning. If the baby has been fed and changed, moms may try putting baby down, or offering them a dummy to help soothe them to sleep. If baby has a full tummy and is dry, the baby will usually drop off to sleep, with little encouragement. It is best to attempt to get baby to sleep as soon as the sleepy cry is heard, as delaying sleep will cause the fussy or frustrated cry!
The discomfort cry
Moms may say that they hear a definite -hey or a hhhhh’ sound amidst their baby’s tears. The discomfort cry may indicate that baby needs to be changed, or that they are in an uncomfortable position. The cry is distinctively different from the sleepy or hungry cry and usually indicates a nappy change.
The -help me’ cry
The cry is high pitched and if this cry is given while baby is pulling up their legs towards their chest, the cry will tell mom that their baby is suffering from lower gas and their tummy may be hurting. Moms can help by patting baby’s back or laying the infant across their legs while gently rubbing and tapping their back. This will help to dispel the gas. If the baby’s desperate cries continue, mom can try softly massaging the baby’s tummy.
The -burp me’ cry
This cry also indicates tummy cramps due to gas and is usually heard just after feeding. The cry is short and baby will make an -eh.. eh..’ sound. To relieve the pressure in baby’s tummy, moms can place baby’s chest on their shoulders, and pat and rub baby’s back. If this is done correctly the soft -eh eh’ cry will be replaced by a loud belch – which means the air has been displaced and baby is burped and ready to continue feeding.
It may take a bit of time to recognize the calls of baby but soon enough moms will be able to promptly determine what all the distress calls means. The desperate cry will become the most noticeable of all cries and this loud wail demands that parents take quick action to alleviate any pain or tend to any discomfort or pain that baby may be experiencing.
– Kathy Baron