Why Babies Cry

Why Babies Cry

Babies cry…a lot. But have you ever thought about why babies cry? New parents tend to get upset when their babies cry and this is completely normal. A crying baby can be very upsetting and frustrating for new parents, not to mention emotionally exhausting.
Remember, all parents have been there and it is part and parcel of bringing a new bundle of joy into the world.
Let’s take a closer look at why babies cry and what you can do to help them settle.

Why Do Babies Cry When they Are Born?

Some good news – this phase doesn’t last forever. Newborn babies are the biggest culprits in the crying stakes and babies tend to cry most in the first four months of their lives.

Babies cry when they are born for a few different reasons.

Firstly, crying helps clear the baby's lungs of amniotic fluid and mucus that may have accumulated during the birthing process. This allows the baby to start breathing air and get the oxygen they need.

Secondly, crying is the baby's way of communicating their needs. They may be hungry, uncomfortable, or in need of a diaper change. Crying is their way of letting their caregivers know that they need attention and care.

Thirdly, the process of being born can be stressful for the baby. Crying can help release tension and stress and calm the baby down.

Overall, crying is a natural and important part of a baby's early communication and development. It helps them get the care they need and can also signal to their caregivers if something is wrong.

On average a baby in the first four months of its life will have a good cry for around two to three hours a day!

So, is it normal for your baby to cry so often? Unfortunately, yes, but you should know why babies tend to cry and also be aware of underlying symptoms of serious conditions that need medical assistance.

Babies can’t speak! The only way they can communicate with us is to make noises. This is one of the main reasons why babies cry. They are trying to tell us something.

Babies Cry When They’re Hungry

Your baby has a tiny tummy so it is not uncommon for a baby to have a good cry every few hours when it decides it needs to tell Mum that it wants a feed. 

One of the first things a breastfeeding Mum does when a baby starts to cry is to over it the breast.

If you are feeding your little one from a bottle make sure you check that they are completely finishing their feeds and maybe try mixing things up a little more often. 

Also, check for reflux, which is a very common cause of crying at feeding time.

There are behaviours a baby displays that will show when they want their food.

You may have heard of the terms rooting, or that babies do things like try to eat their own firsts. These are both clear signs of wanting to be fed and if you pick up on these signals quickly you will find that the crying starts to reduce significantly.


Baby’s Cry When They’re Tired

Babies may cry when they are tired as a way of expressing their discomfort or frustration. When a baby is tired, they may become fussy, irritable, and difficult to console, leading to crying.

One reason why babies cry when they are tired is that they may be overstimulated. Babies are constantly taking in new information about their environment, and this can be overwhelming for them, particularly if they are already feeling tired. When a baby becomes overstimulated, they may cry as a way of expressing their need for rest and quiet.

Another reason why babies cry when they are tired is that they may have difficulty settling down to sleep. Babies have not yet developed the ability to self-soothe, and may rely on their caregivers to help them fall asleep. If they are having trouble falling asleep, they may become frustrated and cry.

It is important for caregivers to pay attention to a baby's cues and respond appropriately to their needs, particularly when they are tired. This may involve creating a calm and quiet environment, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, and providing comfort and reassurance to help the baby feel secure and settled.

A Wet Nappy Will Make Your Baby Cry

Would you like to sit in your own poo? Dirty nappies (wet and smelly) will make a baby cry.

Babies cry when they have a wet or dirty nappy because it is uncomfortable and can cause irritation to their sensitive skin. When your baby's nappy is wet or dirty, it can also create a feeling of being cold or clammy, which can be unpleasant and distressing.

Additionally, babies may cry when they have a wet nappy because they want to be changed. Babies rely on parents and caregivers for all of their needs, including changing their nappy, and crying is their way of communicating their discomfort and need for assistance.

It is important to check and change a baby's nappy regularly to prevent discomfort and irritation. This can also help prevent nappy rash, which can be painful and cause further distress for the baby. By responding promptly to a baby's cries and ensuring that their nappy is clean and dry, we can help the baby feel more comfortable and secure.

When They Want a Cuddle

Remember that your baby has spent nine months with you, literally inside you.

Babies want love, attention, warmth and the smell of mum at all times. Have you ever seen a new Mum try to proudly pass their new-born baby around a room full of relatives? This normally ends in a screaming baby, desperate to be returned to the warmth and smell of mum.

Cuddling can help stop a baby from crying because it provides the baby with a sense of comfort and security. When a baby is held and cuddled, they can feel the warmth and touch of their caregiver, which can be soothing and calming.

Cuddling also releases hormones in both the baby and mum that promote relaxation and bonding. When a baby feels safe and secure in their caregiver's arms, their body can relax and their crying may stop.

Furthermore, cuddling and physical touch can help regulate a baby's emotions and reduce stress. When a baby is upset, they may experience a surge of stress hormones that can be overwhelming for them. Physical touch can help reduce the levels of stress hormones in their body, leading to a greater sense of calm and comfort.

Overall, cuddling is a natural and effective way of soothing a crying baby. By providing comfort and security, physical touch can help a baby feel safe and calm, and reduce their need to cry.


If Something Is Hurting Them

OK, so if you have ticked off all the common drivers that cause a baby to cry and things aren’t getting any better now is the time to put your Mum detective hat on.

Babies cry when something is hurting them as a way of communicating their distress and seeking help. Pain is a powerful motivator for new-borns, and crying is their primary means of expressing that they are in discomfort or distress.

When a baby is in pain, they may cry louder or more intensely than usual. They may also have a distressed facial expression, be less active than usual, and may resist being touched or handled.

It is important to pay close attention to a baby's crying and other cues, particularly if you suspect that the baby is in pain. Some common causes of pain in babies include teething, colic, ear infections, and gas. By identifying the cause of the pain and addressing it promptly, you can help to alleviate the baby's distress and provide comfort and reassurance.

No one knows your baby better than you and if at any point your baby's crying persists or they show other signs of illness or distress, it is important to seek medical attention from a healthcare professional, as this may be a sign of a more serious condition that requires treatment.

Never ever try to talk yourself out of seeking medical help if you have exhausted all possibilities and everything you have tried has failed. Pick up the phone and talk to your GP straight away.

When They Are Too Hot or Too Cold

Babies cry when they are too hot or too cold as a way of communicating their discomfort and seeking help.

Newborn babies have limited ability to regulate their body temperature, which means they rely on us to ensure that they are comfortable and safe.

When a baby is too hot, they may become flushed and sweaty, and may cry as a way of expressing their discomfort. Similarly, if a baby is too cold, they may become pale and shivery, and may cry to signal that they need to be warmed up.

It is important to monitor your baby's temperature and ensure that they are dressed appropriately for the weather and the environment. This may involve adding or removing layers of clothing, adjusting the room temperature, or providing a warm blanket or swaddle.

If your baby's crying persists despite efforts to regulate their temperature, it is important to seek medical attention from a GP or your midwife, as this may be a sign of an underlying medical condition or illness.

Wind Can Make Your Baby Cry

Your newborn baby has a tiny teeny weening little belly.

Wind can make a baby cry because it can cause discomfort and pain in their digestive system. Babies have an immature digestive system, which means they may be more prone to developing trapped gas, also known as "wind."

When a baby has wind, it can cause pressure and discomfort in their abdomen, leading to crying and fussiness. They may also squirm or arch their back in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

Additionally, wind can be caused by swallowing air while feeding or crying, which can further exacerbate the discomfort and lead to more crying.

It is important to pay attention to your baby's feeding and burping routines to help prevent wind. This may involve burping the baby after feedings, ensuring that your baby is positioned correctly during feedings, and allowing the baby to rest and settle after feedings.

If your baby is crying due to wind, there are several techniques to help soothe and comfort them. These may include gentle massage or tummy time, burping the baby, or providing a warm compress to the baby's tummy. By addressing the underlying cause of the crying, you can help your baby feel more comfortable and settled.

You should know how to wind your little one and get into the habit of winding them after every feed until you hear the burps.

The three most common methods of winding are:

• Gently pat and rub their backs whilst they are lying over your shoulder
• Softly massage their stomach (think clockwise)
• Gently bend their legs up toward their stomach, just like that are trying to ride a bicycle

    Baby’s Cry When They Want Some Attention

    Babies cry when they want attention because crying is their primary means of communicating their needs and seeking assistance.

    They are entirely dependent on their caregivers for all of their needs, including food, comfort, and safety, and crying is their way of expressing that they need help.

    When a baby wants attention, they may cry to signal that they need to be held, comforted, or even entertained. They may also cry if they are bored, lonely, or seeking interaction with others.

    It is important to respond to your baby's cries promptly and appropriately, as this can help build a strong bond of trust and security between you and your baby. This may involve holding and cuddling your little one, engaging in play and interaction, or providing comfort and reassurance.

    By responding to a baby's cries with attention and care, you can help to meet your baby's needs and promote their overall wellbeing and development.
    BUT they are also quick learners and they are as sneaky as ninjas.

    Babies quickly pick up that crying leads to hugs, kisses, soothing and Mum time, irrespective of what time of the day. Get into a habit of running through a quick checklist with your baby and if you think they are seeking attention don’t feel bad about putting them back down again.

    Obviously don’t leave them crying hysterically, but you need to be aware of how sneaky babies can be when they learn that crying gets them attention and other nice things!

    Will My Newborn Baby Ever Stop Crying?

    Yes, your newborn baby will eventually stop crying as they mature and develop. Crying is a normal and natural part of a baby's development, and it is their primary means of communicating their needs and seeking help from their caregivers.

    There is not a parent in the world that hasn’t felt utterly useless when trying to stop their baby from crying uncontrollably in the middle of the night. It can be overwhelming but don’t be hard on yourself. You are doing a fantastic job so keep going.

    Newborn babies may cry for a variety of reasons, including hunger, discomfort, tiredness, and overstimulation. As they grow and develop, they will become better able to self-regulate and communicate their needs in other ways, such as through gestures, facial expressions, and verbal communication.

    As you build up a bond of communication with your baby you will find that you can very quickly identify the driver of the tears and the remedy. This phase won’t last forever and once it's over you will be able to return to a normal (ish) sleep pattern once again.

    While it can be challenging to soothe a crying newborn, it is important to remember that crying is a normal and healthy part of their development, and that it will gradually decrease over time as the baby becomes more adept at communicating their needs and regulating their emotions.

    In the meantime, it is important to remain patient, attentive, and responsive to the baby's needs, and to seek help from your midwife or GP if you have concerns about the baby's crying or overall wellbeing. And remember you can always ask for help from your family or partner if you need a little bit of downtime.

    You read more of our Parenting Tips For Babies and Toddlers here.