Deciphering Baby Cries

IMG_0106I am currently 25 weeks pregnant with my third baby, and let me say, I am not an expert. I’ve already been thinking about life with a newborn and how different things are going to be. Of course I am excited, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. When you have a newborn, there can be a lot of crying. But how do you know what this little baby wants when it can’t tell you? Luckily, experts are out there and have studied baby’s cries. Here are some of the cries many newborns do and what they could mean.

Hunger Cries
Many believe that the “neh” sound in baby talk is the hunger sound. When a baby starts sucking and their tongue is pushed to the roof of their mouth, this sound naturally occurs. Many times this is a low-pitched wail that stops once baby is given the breast or bottle. Growth spurts are a time when this sound can occur frequently. With my kids, I always offered the breast first when they were crying or seemed very upset. Milk does a body good.

Sleepy Cries
I’m convinced my son Levi had this cry going on all of the time and I was just too silly to notice. The sound “owh” is made in the reflex of a yawn. It could also sound like “wah-wah.” This cry could occur before naptime or bedtime and especially before you have a good schedule set for your little one. Remember, tired babies can become very upset so watch for sleep cues.

Cuddle Cries
These cries will start and stop when you pick your baby up. Babywearing is a great way to avoid these cries. My kids both loved being worn for the first year of their life. Newborns are used to being in a womb where they are cuddled and soothed, so it makes sense that babies want to be held. You may notice this cry more after you have been out of your normal routine or have been in a stimulating environment.

Gassy Cries
“Eair” is a sound that means lower gas. This sound is a deeper sound from the lower abdomen. If a baby is pulling his or her knees up or pushing down and out with his or her legs, they may be gassy. The “eh” sound could also mean gas. Try burping baby first. Sometimes this can be an easy solution. Bicycyling my baby’s legs always helped with gas, and occasionally we used a gas drop or gripe water. Baby could also like having their belly rubbed. If you are getting this cry often, start keeping a journal of what you eat and see if any foods might be causing colicky behavior. It’s pretty common for newborns to have sensitivity to caffeine, dairy, or even some leafy greens like broccoli or cabbage. Most babies outgrow the sensitivity within 6 months. If it makes you gassy, it could make baby gassy, too.

Babies are all different. Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what your baby wants. I always tried to nurse my baby first. Then, I would check their diaper and then if all else failed, I would put them in a carrier, check their clothes, or sing and bounce. I look forward to being a mom of three and discovering what makes this little one happy. Of course, it will not be easy, but I do feel more informed than I did with my first child.

Remember baby cries aren’t all bad, even though they can be stressful. Your little one is just trying to communicate with you.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2 in transition. Her family is moving, starting a new adventure, and adding a new baby soon. 

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