The Complete Guide To Why Babies Cry

By Katie Taylor | Parenting

Mar 09

Right, so you’re just about ready to pull your hair out in pure frustration. You’ve tried it all, as in everything, and nothing seems to be working. If only this child could talk, you wish longingly. But did you know that your bundle of love is, in fact, communicating with you already? It may just sound like screaming and wailing, but this screaming is the beginning of a long and beautiful career in letting you know what he wants.

Your job now is to figure out what he wants. Luckily, that comes with experience and time. As you and your little one become familiar with each other, you’ll both send out cues and you’ll both pick up on those cues.

Here’s a good list of reasons why babies cry

  • Your pumpkin is hungry

“Impossible!” you say. “I just fed him 30 minutes ago”. Well, some children need more nourishment than others. It may just be that your little one prefers to eat smaller meals (or drink smaller portions of breast milk) more frequently during the day. There’s nothing wrong with this. Tip: make a note of your little one’s feeding habits, how often, and how much (in the case of a breastfeeding baby, note the duration of the feed.) This will help you get a good understanding of your little ones routine.

Extra tip: Check to see if your baby is thirsty. Your little one will still need water, even if you’re breastfeeding him. Be sure to give him a few sips of water if feeding your little one doesn’t stop the crying.

  • Diaper mom, it’s the diaper!

Even just a wet diaper can irritate your little one. Some diaper brands tend to get very heavy and don’t allow for baby’s skin to breathe well. The wet feeling could irritate your little one. Urine can also sting if it’s a little high in acidity. A product that many people find valuable in order to remove irritation and rash is the baby diaper rash cream from Weleda.

  • Your little one is not feeling 100% up to scratch

Feeling ill could definitely cause your little one to cry. After all, he has to let you know somehow that he’s not feeling well. Sometimes your little one may be feeling uncomfortable or feeling lonely too. He’ll be sure to tell you.

  • Too much or too little stimulation

Right, you just can’t seem to get the balance of this one right. First your cheese stick is overwhelmed, then he is bored. “What is it he wants from me?” You ask frantically. If you’re struggling with a crying toddler, it’s likely he doesn’t know what he wants himself, that’s what you’re there for mom. Tip: Try putting on some (gentle) music to dance to. This should keep your little one happy and occupied, without over-stimulating him.

  • He could be getting too hot, or too cold

Your child sounds a bit like a parrot being squeezed through a keyhole, but if you were to translate it, he could simply be saying: mom, sunscreen and play trunks are all I need for the beach next time, not fleece wear and winter booties, please.

  • He could have tummy troubles, or needs to burp.

Trapped air in a small body can be quite agonizing. Colic is usually a big factor with consistent crying. Tip: give your little one a small dose of gripe water, it will help with the winds, and it can also help to settle the tummy a bit. For both younger and older children, you can rub the tummy a little in a clockwise motion. This is comforting to your little one, plus it helps the tummy. Be sure to always rub gently, pressure on the tummy can worsen the symptoms.

  • Oh, is vas a tooth?

Teething can be quite uncomfortable and can certainly be a reason for crying. Not only are the gums generally quite raw during teething, your little one might experience a runny tummy or even a fever. All-in-all, it can be a trying time for both baby and mom.

  • Yawn!

Oh! It looks like it’s been a long day for your little one. It might be time for him to sleep if you’ve tried the above.

Here are a few of the best tell-tale signs that your newborn is tired:

  1. He’s pulling at his ears
  2. Arching backwards
  3. Sucking on his fingers
  4. Yawning
  5. Fluttering eyelids and difficulty focusing

And the signs that your toddler is tired:

  1. Clingy behavior
  2. Sudden bouts of tantrums or overly sensitive
  3. Fussy, doesn’t want to eat or drink properly
  4. Crying, of course, and wants your attention, good or bad.
  5. He has become generally difficult
  • He wants to be held

So if you’ve exhausted all your options and you’re not sure why your little one is still crying, it could just be that he needs a hug, or a little cuddle with you, mom. He had 9 months of glorious bonding with you, and now he finds himself lying alone in his cot, which is definitely not as warm or as soft as he had it previously. He’s not complaining, what’s a baby to do right? He’s just asking you to hold him, please. In the case of a toddler, don’t forget they also need constant reminders and loving touch that mom and dad still care for them.

Great, now that you know why your baby is crying, it’s time to work on the how to soothe your little one. You can work your way through the list. If your first instinct is correct, then great, if not, keep going until you find just the right solution for you both.

First try to identify what the problem could be. Make a note of how your little one is crying so that you can map the solution back to the particular sound later on.

Here’s a quick list of things that can help soothe your baby when he’s ready to break glass with his constant crying.

  1. Soothing sounds

Music is not the only soothing sound you can provide your baby. Use gentle tones in your voice when you talk or sing. Open a window and let your little one listen to the sounds of your garden (if you have one). If you live in the city you can consider getting a soothing sound machine.

 

  1. Gripe Water

You don’t need to give a lot of gripe water for it to be effective. And it works rather well. After feeds, give your baby a little bit of water with some gripe water mixed in.

  1. Mellow Motion

Gently rock your little one as you hold him, or take him for a drive, this is sure to soothe him as the vibrations of the car can be very comforting, some have likened it to the movements a baby feels when still in your womb.

  1. Comforting contact

Touch is such a vital part of the relationship between a parent and a baby. Your loving touch can comfort and reassure your little one that you love him and you are still near. 

  1. Different feeding position

Try laying baby on a pillow while you breastfeed. A baby’s body can also get sore from being held all the time. Alternatively, it may be that your little one is trapping air in the body as he feeds. Adjusting the position can alleviate some of the pressure, but also allow for air to escape properly.

  1. Let him suck on something

Now, mom, we know you can’t be holding your baby 24/7. At some point in time, you’ll need to do something too, like work, run errands or just have a rest maybe. It’s ok to give your baby something to suck. A pacifier works great for this as your little one’s natural sucking motion is an intrinsic instinct. It’s also not as dangerous as loose objects. Be sure to choose an orthodontic pacifier.

  1. Warm Bath

Who doesn’t love a good bath? The warmth and gentle touch of the water can really help to calm baby down. Add a few drops of Lavender oil (NOT A LOT as the scent is very strong) to your little one’s bath or to a humidifier that you let run while your little one is bathing. Lavender oil has been known to promote calmness.

  1. Good sleep routine

Sleep is so important, especially for a baby who still needs to sleep every 3-4 hours or so. Don’t worry so much about the erratic sleep patterns early on in your little one’s life, they tend to straighten out as your child grows.

  1. Change dairy products

Not every little body is suited to dairy products. If you see your baby or toddler is not doing so well with dairy (this could definitely cause tummy problems).

  1. Get some good old fresh air

Give your little one some time outside. The sounds, the sunlight and the fresh air will do him only good. Also, there is so much for a little one to take in, like feeling a blade of grass, seeing the color of the sky, it will be a great learning experience for your little one (hopefully he’ll have a good nap after an outing outdoors too).

  1. Get dad involved

We know how much you put into your little one mom, but every now and then he wants to be with his dad too. Encourage this bond. Dad’s can also be soothing and comforting. Plus, it’s likely dad won’t feel like breaking down every time your baby starts to cry. He’s fresh help, so-to-say

  1. Give baby a fresh set of clothes

It could very well be that your little one’s clothes are too tight, too warm or too cold for him. It may also just be uncomfortable material for your little one. A baby’s skin is extremely sensitive, some materials irritate their skin.

  1. Skin to skin (wear me, I’m yours)

Skin to skin is a concept that has really grown over the last few years, so much so, that certain hospitals advocate it too. There are studies that have been conducted to validate the importance of skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. Plus it builds a super awesome bond with your child. 

Here is a super quick list for more ideas to soothe your little one:

  1. Reflux could be a problem, check that this is not the underlying issue.
  2. Give your baby a massage
  3. Dim lights and shut off extra noise (you don’t want to overwhelm your little one)
  4. Entertain the baby. Sing a song

Your Health is important

Make a point of taking care of yourself too. Your child does come first, but if you don’t take care of yourself today, tomorrow you’ll be able to give only 50% to your child. So when you see to your own health and well-being too, you are ensuring that your child gets the best care possible. Ask your family and friends to help out with little one and get dad actively involved. After all, it took both of you to make him so it takes both of you to raise him.

Time outs are important for you too mom. Be sure to do something that lifts your spirits, provides rest and replenishes your energy reserves. This won’t always mean sleep, but a quick diversion in your routine can keep you from falling into a (mindless) pattern. At the end of the day, you want to be at your best for your family. This means having the energy to perform your daily tasks and keeping emotionally strong.

Great going mom, you’ll soon get the hang of your little one’s wailing. Think of it less as noise and more as a communication tool, you’ll feel the stress of the crying literally lift off your shoulders. Not long from now, you’ll be Googling “how to help my child talk” and after that, “how to encourage my child to calm down and speak quietly.” Each new phase has a milestone for your little one’s development; don’t rush through the phases too quickly.