What Does Crying Mean?

Crying is your baby communicating. Researchers say babies have distinct cries that mean different things such as “I am hungry,” “My diaper is wet,” or “I am in pain.” There is even a cry that is the baby just trying to get your attention. Be patient. In time, you will learn what the different cries mean.

It is important to remember:

  • Crying is normal.
  • You cannot spoil a baby by responding to his crying

Do not worry about spoiling your child by responding to her cries. Your baby needs you. In the first six months, you cannot “spoil” a baby. An infant this young is not trying to force you to do something or get her way. Her brain is not advanced enough to thing that way. If you have already tried everything – fed her, burped her, changed her diaper, made sure she is not too warm or too cold – then just hold her and talk to her or sing to her. Maybe she just needs soothing. She may be just saying, “Be with me. Comfort me. Hold me.”

When to Worry about Crying?

If your baby’s cries are unusually persistent or just do not sound right, it could be a medical problem. Call your doctor or a clinic if this happens.

Warning signs might include:

  • Fever over 100.4 degrees
  • Cough that will not go away
  • Breathing problems
  • Baby appears to be in pain

Never Shake a Baby

Never, never shake a baby. A baby’s neck is weak and his head is large in proportion to his body. If a baby is shaken his heavy head snaps back and forth in a whiplash-like movement. This shaking injures the brain. Shaking a baby can cause permanent blindness, brain damage and even death. This is called Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Parenting can be difficult. If your baby will not stop crying and you find yourself so frustrated you want to shake or hit her, you need a break. Put your child in her crib where she will be safe and call a relative, friend or 1-800-4-A-CHILD (The Child help National Child Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Do not give up until you find someone. There is nothing wrong with asking someone for help. It is the smart thing to do for both you and your child.


Colic is crying that cannot be soothed and sometimes sounds like screaming. Babies with colic often extend and pull up their legs and pass gas. About one in ten babies develop colic, often between the second and fourth weeks after birth. No one knows why exactly. It could be extra sensitivity to too much activity around them or difficulty digesting the milk they are drinking. It can also be caused by swallowing a lot of air. Babies with colic are healthy and the crying is not caused by anything you are doing.

Although at times it may seem as though the crying will never end, try to be patient. Most babies grow out of colic at about three to four months of age.

Some Things that Might Help to relieve Colic

  • If you are breastfeeding, eliminate all milk products, caffeine, onions, cabbage, beans and other gas-producting foods from your diet.
  • If you are bottle feeding, talk to your doctor and try a formula that has no milk products
  • Try rubbing the baby’s back while she is on her stomach over your lap. Sometimes the pressure on the stomach relieves gas or discomfort.
  • Give your baby a pacifier.
  • Wrap your baby tightly in a blanket.
  • Hold and rock your baby.
  • Hum or sing to your baby.
  • Try a baby swing, a walk in the stroller or a drive in the car.

—- from First5 Advice for New Parents

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