If there’s one sound a new mother knows well it’s that of a crying baby. It triggers us
all in different ways, and even as our little ones grow to toddlers, children, and
adolescents, the sound of a crying baby will always hold a certain trigger.
Because it can mean so very much.
What A Crying Baby Means
Logically, the main reason babies cry in the beginning is when they’re hungry. They
haven’t the verbal skills to tell you they are famished, and so they wail and cry until
they are tended to. I mean, wouldn’t you if you couldn’t speak?
Wet diaper? Cry.
Too hot? Cry.
Too much light? Cry.
Too dark? Cry.
Dropped something they were playing with? Cry.
Loud noise startled them? Cry.
Too quiet? Cry.
You get the idea. Babies cry. A lot. But they have a good reason for each and every
cry, and as a mother you will learn your baby’s unique sounds for each specific need
and want. And here’s the thing, it’s not always because your baby is unhappy or
uncomfortable. Sometimes a cry is simply because they are overwhelmed or over-
stimulated. Sometimes a baby crying is really out of boredom and a need to be
interacted with. Or sometimes a cry is simply to get your attention.
Different Cries Mean Different Things to Each Baby and Each Mother
As a mother, you’ll instinctively learn your own baby’s cries and what they mean. I
My son had a very distinct cry when he was hungry. It held a different pitch and
tone, and I knew immediately what he wanted. Of course, those cries fell at precise
feeding times, which helped me learn that pitch and tone, but it was also extremely
And just before he turned 7 months he decided that he wanted to wake up every 25
minutes during the night, just to see my face. He would cry out, as it startled and
scared, and I’d come running. He would then grin and immediately stop crying. He
knew what would get me running.
That’s also when I decided to sleep train my son (a subject we’ll revisit at a later
stage), the one hour it took for him to cry himself to sleep was an agonizing hour for
me. His cry was, once again, different and distinct. It was one of annoyance and
perhaps a little sadness for me not going into the room. But it was also a cry of
defiance. He wanted me to listen to him. I refused. And so, he learned to self-soothe.
Since that night he slept his nights …
Of course, each baby is as unique as its cry.
Babies who suffer from colic tend to cry more often than those who don’t, and for
good reason. Babies with colic are essentially suffering from horrible acid reflux
after every meal. And as recently pregnant women, every mother knows what it feels
like to have heartburn.
How to Soothe a Crying Baby
It might be one of the most stressful tasks of any new mother: soothing a crying
baby. The feeling of unease and anxiety that immediately encompasses a new
mother who hears her baby crying and can’t make him/her stop is almost
Before you learn your baby’s unique cries and what they mean, it really is a guessing
When I gave birth, that night when baby and I were taken to our room to recover, I
was handed a bundle of papers and booklets. After 36 hours of labor and a 9lb 4oz
baby, the last thing I wanted to do was read. So, I properly swaddled and made sure
my baby boy was comfy in his bassinet beside me and I tried to sleep.
He cried. All night. Every time I picked him up to soothe him he stopped crying, then
what seemed like immediately after I placed him in his own bed, he started to cry
The next morning, the nurse on shift came in and asked me how my night was; I
burst into tears and told her I’d barely slept and neither had my boy. That he’d been
up all night crying and I tried my best but couldn’t make him stop.
She immediately sat beside me, gave me a big hug and said; “Oh honey. The first
night out of the womb is the scariest for newborn babies. All they want is to be held.
If you’d read the first sheet we gave you in the paperwork you would have seen we
recommended you sleep with baby on your chest to help soothe you both.”
Every cry has a meaning. And my crying at that very moment in time had meaning,
From co-sleeping to pacifiers to soothing blankets to swaddling, each baby will let
you know what helps soothe them the most.
Swaddling really is an excellent way to help your crying baby calm down. It helps
them feel secure and safe like they did in the womb. I absolutely loved my
swaddling blankets from Aden & Anais, and they definitely helped me soothe my
baby boy those first few weeks.
Crying Babies are Healthy Babies
Despite the unease you might feel as a mother when you hear your baby crying, you
need to remember that a baby who can use his/her lungs to tell you what the need is
a healthy baby. Obviously, that’s within reason and a baby that cries more than they
sleep or eat should be seen by a professional to rule out other issues, but in general
a baby that cries is one that’s ready to grow and learn and interact with you.
Take each cry and learn from it, grow from it, just like your baby will.