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Understanding Why Your Baby Cries

Understanding Why Your Baby Cries

Trying to figure out why your baby is crying can be one of the most difficult tasks you face as a (new) mother.  For the first couple months of their life, it is one of the only ways of communication that they have. You will also hear lots about being able to identify their cries - and I can tell you firsthand that that is not always the case.  Depending on your baby, there may be very distinct differences or they may all sound the same. So sit back and breathe, Momma. You will figure out why your baby is crying.


This is a very common reason that babies will cry.  Neither of my children got to the point of full out screaming (in hunger) but that is because I watched their cues intently and as they were both exclusively breastfed, my body would tell me when it was time for them to eat….every two hours.  Think about the progression of their crying. Did their fuss lead to their crying or screaming? Did you miss any hunger cues? Crying is the last cue a baby will give for when they are hungry or if they are STILL hungry after a feeding.

Hunger cues to look for:

  • Licking their lips
  • Rooting
  • Trying to suck on fists
  • Clenching hands

Dirty Diaper

This is one of those points that is a no brainer.  It would not be enjoyable or comfortable to sit in a wet or soiled diaper.  If you use disposable diapers, the little moisture indicator can be a lifesaver when checking.  Otherwise just take a quick squeeze or peek to see if the diaper needs to be changed.


Babies are like sponges and absorb everything around them and this can be sure overwhelming.  If there are a lot of lights, colors, sounds, smells, etc. think of the overload that they are experiencing.  Take your baby into a darkened, quiet room and see if that helps to soothe them. It may take a couple minutes but it can help to bring them back in!


Babies sleep a lot.  They are doing a lot of growing and learning and to be able to keep up with everything their bodies require a lot of rest.  Babies are also great at fighting sleep. One reason your baby may be crying is that they are tired. In older babies, you may see signs such as eye rubbing that would indicate tiredness.  You will also notice as your baby gets on a sleep schedule that there are certain cues. If you have fed and changed your baby and they are still crying, try walking, rocking, or bouncing (these were great methods to get my babies to sleep).

Tummy Pain

Stomache pain as an adult can make us cranky so you can imagine what it is like as an infant.  A baby’s digestive system is very new and it has to learn how to digest and handle what the baby is consuming.  If your baby is ingesting something that is upsetting it’s tummy (that can be both breastmilk and formula) there may be a lot of crying.  Gas is a common culprit of tummy upset. Probiotics are a great way to promote gut health and gas drops can help soothe gas bubbles. If you are breastfeeding, you might want to see if there are certain foods that are aggravating your baby (dairy, caffeine, etc).


Your baby could easily just be uncomfortable.  Check to see if they are cold or maybe too warm.  Have they been held for a long period of time? If so, try switching positions or laying them down.  They may just need to be held and loved. The world is very new to them and they are learning to adapt!


Colic is a tough one.  It is defined as inconsolable crying that is over a prolonged period of time.  A lot of people associate tummy issues to colic. My pediatrician said he believes it is a brain development anomoly because it turns off as quickly as it started.  Regardless, there is no known cause of colic or the true cause. What we do know is that it is frustrating, for both you and the baby. We know that it can be extremely hard to handle the crying.  Please understand that this is temporary, the crying WILL end and you will have a happy baby. Be sure to build your support system. Take time where you can be in quiet - give the baby to dad, grandparents, or friends, so you can simply shower or even take a walk.  Love that baby as much as you can - this cannot be easy for them either. They are just trying to communicate that something is going on.


Your baby could be sick!  If you have tried everything and feel there is something wrong, take your baby to the pediatrician.  Sometimes thy will diagnose it as colic, but it could be constipation, ear infections, or anything that would cause them to be under the weather.  If you notice that your baby is running a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or having a runny nose, those are indications of sickness as well. It never hurts to be cautious with sickness as babies immune systems are not fully developed.  There are instances too where you may not need a doctor and just need rest and lots of snuggle time!


Babies can start teething practically at birth (some babies are born with teeth)!  It is not unheard of at all for babies to be teething by three months. If you notice a lot of crying, a lot of chewing, and a lot of slobber, you might want to take a peek to see if they have any teeth coming through.  Teething is not a fun experience for them and thankfully they won’t remember it either.

The Mommy Wrap

The Mommy Wrap is the perfect tool to soothe your baby. Invented by a mom of three colic babies, the Mommy Wrap provides a functional and fashionable method of babywearing! You can free up a hand while keeping your baby upright and close to your heart. 

The Mommy Wrap to soothe crying babies

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You may not ever be able to fully decipher your baby’s cries.  If you don’t, let it go, you are doing nothing wrong! Babies cry and for so many reasons.  Take time to breathe and walk through this list to see if you can figure out what is going on!

Connect with us!

Let us know if there are any main crying points that we may have missed!  If you have any great tips on reading crying cues, please let us know below.

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Guest post provided by Brenna Dean at Momma Camping

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