Different Types of Baby Cries Explained

Different Types Of Baby Cries
Photo by Aikomo Opeyemi

When your little one first came into the world, he probably cried to announce his arrival. They didn’t just mean a hello!: a baby crying at birth is how their lungs start to work.

They make many different types of baby cries, from giggles to grunts to baby babble. Most of the time, they are happily absorbed in their new world.

While it might have been music to your ears when you first heard it, watching your baby cry every day and not knowing why can be upsetting even for both of you.

Although your baby can’t talk, she can give clues to help you figure out what she’s communicating. Unable to tell you exactly what she needs in words, she relies on various whimpers, cries, and screams to get your attention.

It can be difficult for new families to understand what each crying sound means. You’ll be relieved to learn that babies actually have their own language, and oddly enough, it’s the same no matter where your baby is born. It’s a universal language for babies; the good news is that you can pick it up easily.

Of course, practice makes perfect, and over time you will become more familiar with what they are trying to tell you.

Until then, we will help you translate the different types of baby cries. But before we get into that, let’s first go through why babies cry in the first place.

Why do babies cry?

The first few weeks after the birth of a newborn can be stressful for families as they try to find out why their newborn is crying.

The different types of baby cries express the different needs or emotions of a baby. While it may be natural to crack the code for certain types of crying, most new parents need little support.

Parents of babies need to take care of themselves during the first weeks of having a baby. When you are healthy and calm, you have more energy to foster a meaningful relationship with your child and present a positive role model from which your baby will learn as you respond to their different types of cries.

Here are some “crib” notes to help you understand what your baby might say (or cry out)

The eight Top reasons why your baby is crying;

1. Your baby has a dirty diaper

Babies cry a lot in the first few months. There are many different types of baby cries, but your baby will let you know when he has a wet or full diaper.

Wet or dirty diapers are one of the main reasons babies feel uncomfortable. No one wants to wear a full diaper longer than necessary.

Watch out for: A persistent, nasal, whiny cry with a short crying sound followed by a longer one. When the sounds turn into loud cries, it’s a sign that the baby is fed up. Check for a full or dirty diaper.

2. Your baby is hungry

This type of crying is associated with breastfed babies and bottle-fed babies. It may have a slow introductory phase where the baby wakes up and realizes they are hungry.

At first, it may sound like restless crying, but after a while, the crying becomes more frantic as it gets louder, longer, and more demanding.

Watch out for: the kind of cry that sounds like a siren. The sound is often accompanied by raising the hand to the mouth, clenching the fingers, and turning the head toward the bottle or breast.

3. You have a tired baby

Babies cry to communicate with their parents. For example, they may cry because they are hungry, uncomfortable, or tired. It is advised for families to “watch, listen and think about what might happen.” Then respond to the baby’s cues.

During the first weeks, newborns rely mainly on their cries and reflexes to communicate. Thus, you may notice them yawning, closing their eyes, making jerky movements, bringing their fist to their mouth, and sucking their thumb. An older baby may rub his eyes as he develops.

Watch out for: loud sounds of babies crying behind which there is a lot of breathing. They often begin with short, quiet whimpers that escalate until the child’s needs are met. It is a cry that your natural senses will please and learn from.

4. You have a sick baby

It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to hear this cry, but it usually means your child is not feeling well. You should also consider other symptoms, such as if your baby is lethargic, has watery eyes, or has a runny or stuffy nose.

Take your child’s temperature if you suspect she has a fever. Call your GP or the state helpline if you are concerned about their health and well-being. Talk to your doctor if you suspect your baby is suffering from acid reflux (GER).

Watch out for: constant crying that doesn’t stop even when the baby is fed, comforted, or put to sleep. Cries that indicate signs of illness often sound like weak, tired moans. They are usually high-pitched with low intensity. There may also be long pauses between crying.

5. Your baby is uncomfortable

This cry can happen at any time compared to the different types of baby cries, especially in older babies who are more mobile. In other words, your baby is not where he wants to be. They can move a lot in your arms, turn their head from side to side, or stretch where they want.

Watch out for: A scream that sounds more like a combination of all the different types of baby cries put together. You can persevere until the babies get what they want. Sometimes they can wish they were down. Another time they may want the other person to pick them up and hold them.

More familiar different types of baby cries

6. You have a prestimulated baby

When there is too much light, new sounds, or new experiences at the same time, your baby may become overstimulated. Change their environment.

Close the curtains, dim the lights, add white noise like a fan or vacuum cleaner, or listen to recorded nature sounds to calm the baby.

Watch out for: the baby’s intense crying that goes up, down, and up. This cry is similar to the one heard when a baby suffers from wind or gas pain. Your child may try to turn their head or body away from distracting lights or sounds.

7. You are bored with your child

Babies use different types of baby cries to express their needs. Crying may be the only way babies communicate what they need. However, their crying can also be caused by boredom. There are two schools of thought on boredom-induced infant crying:

i) Babies seek attention by being picky and restless. Crying gets someone’s attention (“I cried, and they came!”). This often leads to someone holding the baby.

ii) Boring babies need to be entertained. This can lead to over-stimulation of the baby and starting to cry again.

We believe that when a child is encouraged to accept their curiosity and explore their environment, they progress.

Watch out for: Ooh and ahs as the baby tries to get your attention. When they fail, the cooing turns into an upset baby cry, then turns into a bitter cry that alternates with whimpers. She has a crying pattern similar to a stimulated baby.

8. You have a colicky baby.

The reason for the number of colic discomfort is still unknown. How much is related to excessive crying and irritable behavior of the baby.

It is not caused by any particular medical condition, such as acid reflux. Instead, colics are persistent cries that are hard to calm. It can start when the newborn is only a few days old.

Not being able to comfort your baby can be very stressful. Parents, families, and caregivers with colic babies need to care for themselves.

Your GP can determine if your baby’s persistent crying results from a medical problem. However, for most babies with colic, there is no known cause for their behavior.

Watch out for: Long periods of crying accompanied by intense wailing or screaming during which your baby is irritable, whingey, and fidgety. Most babies naturally cry for 2-3 hours a day. However, a colic baby will cry even more, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.

What if you can’t find a reason for the baby’s cry?

Different Types Of Baby Cries
Photo by Ryan Franco

The crying of some newborns does not seem to be related to basic needs. In fact, 80-90% of all babies have a 15-minute to an hour-long cry which is a different type of baby cries that is not easy to explain or decode.

Most of these crying sessions happen at night. It may be the hectic and most stressful time of the day at home: everyone is tired, everyone is hungry (and the mother’s milk supply may be at its lowest for the day), everyone’s done, done, done, and it goes for the baby too.

Or it may happen that after a hard day of accepting and processing all the sights, sounds, and other stimuli in the environment, your baby just needs to calm down with a good cry. Crying for a few minutes can even help them fall asleep.

However, if you think you hear a cry of discomfort or pain, make sure something is making your child uncomfortable, such as clothes or hair wrapped around her finger. If your baby’s crying seems unusually long or intense and inconsolable, call your pediatrician.

Also, through lots of observations and research by specialists, it has been discovered several basic sounds a baby makes just before making the different types of baby cries, depending on their age. 

The top five vocal reflexes that have been selected for review;

1. Neh – hunger

2. Eh – upper wind (burps)

3. Eairh – lowest wind (gas)

4. Heh – discomfort (hot, cold, wet)

5. Owh – drowsiness

Let’s dive a little deeper into how you can interpret each of these different sounds. This should give you a few more clues to help you figure out what the crying baby is trying to tell you.

Baby crying sounds in words;

1. “Neh” – hunger

The newborn uses the sucking reflex to create a “neh” sound when hungry. The best way to recognize this sound is to look at your baby’s mouth.

They’ve been practicing this vocal reflex in the womb. If your baby is in a sucking motion and crying, you will hear “neh” first.

Babies make this sound when their tongue moves to a position behind their teeth, similar to where we make an “nnn” sound.

When your baby opens his mouth, his tongue slides forward to suckle—combined with the air behind the cry, which creates a “neh” sound. It may sound like the word “net.”

Observation: Most newborns clench their fists when hungry (a reflex known as palm grasping). Babies may also try to bite or suck on their hands or reach for your breast or bottle.

By observing your baby’s response to hunger, you can respond to your baby before he becomes very hungry.

2. “Eh” – upper wind (burps)

The “eh” sound reflex means your newborn needs to burp. This sound is caused by internal reflexes pushing the air bubble out from their chest.

The baby responds naturally with a short hiss, grunts, or squeaking, sounding like “eh” in “egg .”This is not an actual burp but the sound your baby makes when he tries to burp.

Observation: Facial expressions of pain, squirming, kicking, shaking and other fussy are indicators that your baby needs to burp.

You want to avoid the buildup of air bubbles. Even if they haven’t finished drinking, it would be good to burp them from time to time to continue feeding.

3. Eairh – lowest wind (gas)

This sound is most noticeable when the baby is between 6 and 12 weeks old. If the baby has bloating or stomach pain, you will hear the reflex sound of “eairh .” If the sound is isolated from crying, your baby may feel general discomfort and not develop severe gas pain.

“Eairh” begins with an open mouth, a folded tongue, and a taut stomach. When the pain is intense, the beginning of the “eairh” sound is prolonged until it becomes an intense cry—described as a loud, loud cry that makes parents uncomfortable. It is caused by cramps in the abdominal muscles.

Observation: if you miss the first sounds and your baby starts crying, the crying will be very loud, intense, and rhythmic.

This will last until the wind passes, which may follow a similar path to the bowel movement. To alleviate their discomfort, there are several different holds, or you can massage them.

4. Heh – discomfort (hot, cold, wet)

Babies make a reflex “heh” sound when feeling stress and discomfort, such as those that indicate a diaper change. This is a sound associated with babies over six weeks old.

This sound is activated in response to a skin reflex, such as a feeling of sweating or itching. “Heh” has some vocal variations.

Observation: when a baby is uncomfortable, his cries are generally light and intermittent. Crying gets louder if you ignore her, so be sure to calm the baby down and quickly determine the cause of her discomfort. We recommend that you learn what all the different types of shouts for “heh” mean.

5. Owh – drowsiness

Newborn babies make a reflex “owh” sound when they feel tired. This sound occurs when the baby yawns and exhales. “Owh” can be heard before the baby cries and during the newborn’s crying. Babies who make this sound have an oval mouth, a flattened tongue, and a wide space inside the mouth.

Observation: If it’s time to take a nap, your baby may start rubbing her eyes. Her crying may start slowly and quietly and gradually increase in pitch and intensity.

If your baby is exhausted, her crying may sound like crying from hunger. Listen to the initial sound before the crying, and you will notice the difference.

How to Calm a Crying Baby?

Different Types of Baby Cries
Photo by Brytny.com

Whether or not you can identify the cause of the different types of babies’ cries, that’s fine. Don’t punish yourself. Babies sometimes cry for no apparent reason.

But we know how stressful it can be in the middle of a crying episode. In addition to the tips above on identifying the different types of babies’ cries, there are a few other things you can try to comfort them.

Try wrapping them up, holding them close, and rocking them gently. Sing a lullaby or softly hum a melody. White noise can also help.

Driving in a wheelchair or car can help calm them down. And never forget the power of interference; funny faces or a cool toy can help.

Above all, remember to take care of yourself. If your baby won’t stop crying, put her in a safe place, like a crib, and take a few minutes to compose yourself.

Or ask someone you trust for help. Your child is sensitive to your emotions, whether positive or negative. If they feel you’re upset, the situation will only get worse, and it will be even harder for you to calm them down.

Also, just like you, your baby may need a “me” time. After all that crying, they might need a break too!

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