Understanding Your Baby’s Cry

 In Child care, Children Early Education, Early Learning
Home » Understanding Your Baby’s Cry
Mother with baby crying

If we could understand just what our baby needs, there would likely be a lot less angst. Much of the energy from family during this early stage of life is spent experimenting with countless methods to understand and swiftly deliver a baby’s needs. Often it seems they have achieved, finally worked it out, and yet as soon as this marvellous discovery is announced, the game changes again.

We could just relax and let it all unfold. But we don’t. We are their family. Our little one has direct access to our response buttons and can activate them with the slightest whimper. So, is there a way of decoding a baby cry?



Decoding is something we like to think we can do. Crack this one and you’ll be streets ahead of everyone else. And certainly, there are sound patterns which discern between different needs common to most babies. But much newborn crying seems entirely unrelated to basic needs. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of all babies have crying sessions of 15 minutes to an hour that are not easily explained or decoded.

The best thing you can do is get to know not just the sound of your babies cry, but also their body language, temperament, and daily patterns. These things create your baby’s unique language. Once you establish what is normal for them, you can better identify that which is out of the ordinary.

Here are some guidelines on understanding your babies cry, and becoming a settling expert.



This is one you will likely learn quickly. Your baby will have stamina to keep this cry going until they are fed, and the sound will be rhythmic and repetitive. Babies will simulate breastfeeding, suck their fingers, and become frustrated when they are hungry, especially if they are close to you and know you are the one who can feed them.



The cry of a tired baby is more of a complaining cry. Nasal whining combined with eye rubbing and restlessness says its nap time.



This sound will be whiny like a tired cry, but the body language may be different. A wet nappy, tight pinching, or the arrival of an uninvited food crumb, or even insect (it happens!) can be difficult to communicate. If your baby isn’t tired and you hear this cry, have a look and see if there’s anything you’ve overlooked.


Over Stimulated /Stressed

A busy day, visit to the relatives, or even just your own state of being can make your baby feel stressed. Babies are intuitive and deeply connected to you. If you are over tired or feeling stressed about relatives visiting, the house work or just having a blue day, your baby can become anxious. The crying will be erratic and gestures will be too. Sometimes your baby is a good barometer to help you recognise you both need some quiet time.


In Pain

Cries of pain are more intense, higher in pitch, and your baby will seem highly distressed. They may become so overwhelmed they pause in between cries to catch their breath. This is not a cry you can ignore and may be in response to a needle. If it is colic, your baby might bring their knees up to their chest as well.



A sudden bang or a strange face can make your baby feel afraid. The cry will occur suddenly and may trigger a need to have some quiet time. You will be able to soothe your baby easily and it will pass.

Once you have achieved some understanding of your baby’s language, you might find yourself wanting to share this with the world, especially if your baby spends time in the care of someone else. Fortunately, our educators are settling experts, and experienced in the care of babies.

We understand you want the best possible care for your baby while they are away from you. We have an understanding of the common languages used by babies, and how to meet their needs. However, we also recognise that all babies are unique and we are always learning. Talk to us about your baby and together we can create a code for your little one.

To find out more about our baby settling experts, or to enrol your little one, contact us today.

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