Babies communicate with you by crying as she’s unable to do anything for themselves.


“It’s a parent’s instinct to differentiate Baby’s cries,” says Barbara Constantinou, a registered nurse. “As your baby gets older, you’ll learn to distinguish each cry according to your baby’s needs. Different cries also have different pitches. A really high-pitched cry could indicate a serious problem, for example.” While you’re learning to recognize your baby’s cries, systematically rule out the basic needs she could be trying to communicate to you. • Hunger Young babies need to be fed often, such as two to three-hourly. Sometimes she’ll still be hungry after a feed and will cry. The hunger cry is usually quite rhythmical and follows the pattern of cry, breathe, cry.

1. Discomfort

Your baby may be crying because she’s too hot or needs a nappy change. This cry is not as loud or as sharp as a pain cry, and the breaths in between each cry are usually shorter than in other cries.

2. Sleepiness

It’s easy for a baby to become overstimulated and common for her sleep requirements to change from week to week. It might be difficult to recognize this cry at first, but as your baby gets older, it will most likely become quite a whiny cry.

3. Affection

Babies thrive on physical attention. Leaving them alone for longer periods may leave her feeling insecure. She may be crying just because she needs to be held.

4. Pain or illness

This cry is usually high pitched, with changes in pitch. It starts up suddenly, and babies often hold their breaths for a relatively long time between each cry. You will be able to recognise this cry quite easily, as it will be completely different from the usual sound of your baby’s cries. When babies are sick, they cry or whimper very quietly, almost as though it’s too painful to cry. Your baby may also be lethargic, jittery or arched. Take your baby to the doctor immediately if this is the case.


Try some of these calming strategies from Meg Faure’s book Baby Sense.

Regulate the environment

There could be something in your baby’s immediate surroundings that is overstimulating her.

Self-soothing Babies self-soothe by sucking on their fingers or touching their face. It’s an important skill to learn, so fight the temptation to pick her up immediately.

Soothing sounds Try playing a CD of classical or Baroque music, or singing a lullaby to your baby.

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