Figuring out why your baby is crying isn’t always easy.
And as you’ve probably noticed, babies get upset fairly frequently because it’s the main way they can communicate.
Getting to grips with what each different cry means can take time – but before you know it, you’ll be able to pick up on his cues and figure out the best way to soothe him.
Until then, get clued up on the why your baby could be getting upset so you know how to help dry those tears – and get that oh-so-cute gummy grin back on his face.
We all get a little grouchy when we’re hungry – and babies are no different. Even if your baby’s last feed wasn’t long ago, check to see if he needs to be fed.
"Interestingly, babies will exhibit a whole range of signals to show you they are hungry before they actually start to cry," says Louisa van den Bergh, founder of antenatal and postnatal class provider Lulubaby.
"Crying is the SOS of hunger, when all else has failed, a baby will cry. A hungry cry is an urgent cry which builds and builds and does not let up until their hunger is satisfied.It is often a “neh” sort of sound."
2. Needs Changing
This one’s simple to check – and easy to sort out. It’s not a nice sensation for your little one to be sat in a full nappy so often he’ll cry to let you know he needs a change.
Whereas we adults simply go to bed when we’re shattered, babies often fuss, cry and struggle to settle – particularly if they’re overtired. If it’s nearly his bedtime when he's upset, use his usual routine to help soothe and relax him or if he’s upset during the day, try putting him down for a nap.
"A tired baby’s cry is a weaker less urgent cry, often an “owh” sound," says Louisa. "It may stop and start; you may be able to soothe your baby and they will no doubt need some help going to sleep in this instance.
"I encourage mums to look for signals that their baby is tired before they get too tired. I also remind them to look at the clock – new-borns in particular cannot cope with being up for much more 90-120 mins in general."
4. Wants Comforting
Sometimes all your baby is after is a cuddle and some attention from you. Comfort him how you usual would – whether that’s by cuddling him, swaddling him or just singing him a lullaby. Some parents find that a warm bath or white noise often does the trick, too.
Teething tends to cause lots of fussiness and, you guessed it, tears. Be on the lookout for other signs of teething, including dribbling and rosy cheeks, to see if your baby’s pearly whites will soon be putting in an appearance and get clued up on how to soothe his pain.
The reason your baby’s crying might be as simple as he’s too hot or too cold. Feel his stomach or the back of his neck to see whether he feels too warm and then add or remove clothing layers accordingly.
Colic affects around 20 per cent of babies and tends to come with a lot of tears. If your tot is crying for more than three hours a day at a time, and exhibiting some of the other signs of colic, then it sounds like this common condition could be the cause.
8. Separation Anxiety
This common development milestone causes a lot of babies to sob for what seems like no particular reason. If your baby’s around nine to 10 months old, this could be why your baby’s so upset. Find out more about separation anxiety here.
Babies sometimes cry when they aren’t feeling well. If you’ve tried everything else mentioned here, take your baby’s temperature and check that it isn’t higher than normal. Keep an eye on him and call your GP for advice if you’re worried.
"A mum and dad very quickly get to know their baby’s cries and behaviour," says Louisa. "They will recognise when their baby is hungry or over stimulated. When their baby utters a cry which is new to them and most likely high pitched, like a scream and just doesn’t sound quite normal, then they may want to take their baby to see a doctor.
"Mums and dads have a very strong intuition when it comes to their baby (in particular the main care giver does) so if you feel that something isn’t right, then I always urge parents to err on the side of caution and see a healthcare professional."
If you’ve checked for everything else and still can’t figure out why your little one’s crying, it might just be because he needs some stimulation.
"For newborns, just taking in the new world around them is enough, so they are more likely to cry from over stimulation or tiredness than lack of it," says Louisa. "A bored cry often starts out as fussing and is a bit start and stop – your baby will stop when you interact with them, but start again if you leave them."
Find him something to watch or listen to, such as a hanging a mobile above his cot or putting a baby-appropriate Spotify playlist on.
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