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Recognizing Your Baby’s Crying Patterns

Your baby's cries are a heart-wrenching sound, but it’s also the sound that calls for you to turn into super-mom(or dad). When your baby cries, you’ll do everything in your power to eliminate whatever is causing that crying. Babies cry for a lot of reasons - hunger, tiredness, discomfort, gas, pain, or even colic. For you to be able to effectively ease whatever is it that’s making your baby cry, you need to know what it is. Why is your baby crying?

One characteristic feature about babies’ cries is that a parent is able to distinguish differences in the pattern of crying. Different causes lead to different cries. The key to making your baby a happy baby is to combat the correct causal factor. Knowing the differences in the cries would be a great help in this effort.

Hunger cries

This cry tends to follow a rhythm once it starts. It may begin with a slight coughing sound. The crying is repetitive and maybe low-pitched. It is common to find your baby engaging in the rooting reflex - they may often ready their mouth to start sucking and make sucking motions with their tongue. If you notice these patterns, think back to when your baby was last fed and then proceed to feed if the interval seems appropriate.

Gas/Pain cries

If your baby has some gas that he/she isn’t able to pass, it may lead to gas pains. These cries are generally high-pitched and shrill. Your baby may hold his/her breath between cries. Babies tend to arch their backs and bring their knees up to their chest. Your baby’s body may become tense and rigid with a scrunched up face.

Tired cries

If your baby is extremely tired or overstimulated, they tend to become cranky. Starts of with a whimpering/whining cry which builds in intensity. Grows louder and longer but can also sound breathless. Your baby may yawn often and blink more. Your baby may also start to rub his/her eyes.

Overstimulated cries

If your baby has been playing a lot and has had enough, he/she may start to get cranky. The cries may sound fussy and whiny and may sound similar to a tired cry. You may be able to notice a hint of annoyance in the cries. These babies often tend to turn away from people since they don’t want to play or interact anymore. Babies may also flail around and turn away from sources of stimulation - noise, light, and movement.

Discomfort/sick cries

If your baby is feeling sick or is in discomfort they cry. These cries tend to be softer and more like whimpers. They tend to be a lower pitch and may sound more nasal. Babies also tend to scrunch up their face.

Needy cries

Babies could get needy for love and cuddles and their way of showing it is by crying. These don’t sound much like crying but more like whining. They’re not very intense or loud. Babies tend to stop crying the minute they’re picked up if this is the cause.

Colic

These cries last for very long periods (2-3 hours at a stretch) and continue for a few days every week. It tends to be consistent with respect to the time of occurrence each day. They tend to be a higher pitch than other cries. Babies may tend to wail and fidget due to discomfort. It may often resemble the pain cry. There is no cure for colic and it goes away on its own.

Just remember that you will find a pattern in your baby’s cries. Once you identify the pattern, you’ll find it much easier to help your baby with less guessing every time. A lot of mothers have found that keeping a diary has helped them through this. 

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