Understanding Your Baby’s Cry

babys cry

Understanding Your Baby's Cry | Summit Healthcare | Show Low, AZAll babies cry, but not all crying has the same cause.

ONE OF THE first things a baby does when he enters the world is cry. At birth, crying is a way for your baby to announce his arrival and express his displeasure at how much colder and less comfortable the outside world is. From that moment, crying becomes his best way of communicating his needs and wants until he is able to talk.

Reasons your baby might cry include:

  • anger
  • being too cold or hot
  • colic
  • discomfort
  • gas
  • hunger
  • overstimulation
  • pain

You’ll notice that certain cries sound different than others. For example, if your baby is hungry, her crying may be low-pitched and short in duration. Pain-induced crying often includes long, high shrieks and wails. Pretty quickly, you’ll learn to differentiate between your baby’s cries for food, a diaper change, or simply for you to pick her up and hold her.


When it comes to calming your crying infant, not all babies will respond to the same comfort. If the usual pressing needs—a soiled diaper, hunger or cold—are met and the crying persists, try other consoling methods until you find one that works.

These approaches could include:

  • giving your baby a warm bath
  • turning on a source of white noise
  • swaddling your baby
  • playing low, soothing music or singing to your baby
  • gently rubbing or patting his back or chest
  • burping her
  • going for a walk in a stroller or carriage

When something is wrong with your baby, you want answers. Unfortunately, the cause of colic—a condition that affects as many as 40 percent of infants each year—is unknown. Some research suggests colic could be an early form of migraines. The good news: Colic is a temporary condition.

For most infants, colic reaches its peak between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Its strict definition is crying that lasts more than three hours a day, occurs on more than three days per week and lasts longer than three weeks.

Colic symptoms include:

  • excessive crying, usually around the same time every day
  • clenching fists or curling up legs when crying
  • a stomach that is swollen or tight
  • turning bright red when crying

To soothe your colicky baby, try varying the way you hold him when he cries—upright or across your lap while you massage his back, for example—or try rocking him or providing skin-to-skin contact. Swaddling, using a pacifier, giving gas relief drops, driving around in your car or using a white noise machine are also potential solutions.

If your baby’s crying is accompanied by a fever of 100.4° F or higher, or if crying increases when you rock or hold her, that could be an indication of illness. Call your pediatrician’s office, describe the child’s symptoms, and ask if you should bring your baby in or if you can treat the illness at home.

Need a pediatrician close to home? Visit summithealthcare.net/find-a-doctor.

Location Map:

Accessibility Toolbar

Scroll to Top