Learn about some of the reasons why babies cry and how you can react.
What Does a Baby’s Cry Mean?
Something to think about: to you, a baby’s cry is a signal for hunger, boredom, discomfort, or tiredness. To everyone else, it’s just noise.
Did this irk you a bit? I bet it did. I mean, who wants to think of a baby’s cries as noise?
Let’s travel back in time, shall we? Think back to when you were child-free….
You’re sitting in a restaurant with your significant other, and in the booth behind you is a young couple with an infant. All of a sudden, as you’re sipping your wine and enjoying your quiet banter, the baby erupts in a wail–a loud, obnoxious shriek of a wail.
What was your first reaction?
I bet you winced. I bet whomever was sitting with you winced. I bet the entire restaurant turned at the sound, looking for the cause.
It’s okay to admit, because, before we were parents, we all did it.
But think about your reaction then, and what your reaction would be now. Would you still wince in annoyance? Is the cry different to you now?
Of course it is. When you become a parent, the cry of a baby is not noise, but communication. A baby cries because he or she doesn’t have the verbal skills to relate to the parent what he/she wants.
Why Babies Cry
Babies can cry for a number of reasons.
What does a baby’s cry mean?
- The baby is hungry.
- The baby is tired.
- The baby is uncomfortable.
- The baby is frightened.
- The baby is bored.
- The baby is cold/hot.
- and so much more.
Have you ever asked your baby “Why are you crying?” when he/she is crying, followed by “Are you hungry? Are your sleepy? Do you want me to hold you?” ?
You know the baby is trying to communicate with you, and your goal is to try to figure out what the need is. By even asking the baby those questions, you are providing the baby with valuable communication lessons, even though the baby could only cry back at you.
Keep on asking those questions. Keep on responding to those cries. In a few months, as your baby recognizes the words, you’ll be surprised how the baby might quiet in reaction to your questions, indicating that he or she knows what you’re talking about.
And in a few months after that, words may replace the cries, and the communication between you will reach a whole new level.
Back to the scene in the restaurant. Now pretend that you’re the parent with the wailing child. You see the faces turn to you and the baby, wondering what’s going on.
What is your reaction? Is it to run and hide with the baby? Is it to profusely apologize for the crying?
Nope. You probably ask, “Why are you crying? Are you hungry? Do you need a diaper change?”, and then take care of your baby. You know there’s a reason for the cry, and you respond to it as a parent should.
And in that crowd of people, there are moms and dads, some with babies themselves or even with older kids, who get it. Those other parents, complete strangers, totally get it.
Nevermind everyone else who may get annoyed at the sound. Someday they may get it.
Crying is not noise. It’s communication. Keep on communicating with your baby!
And then your baby turns into a toddler. Learn how to handle Toddler Tantrums!
What I find annoying is the parents who let their kids cry, don’t communicate, yell or smack at their kids, and I am trying to figure out what the baby needs or trying to help and they are just abusive asshats.
Unfortunately there are going to be bad apples in the parenting community. Aside from reporting the abuse if it’s warranted, there’s nothing we can do. It definitely is annoying though!
Babies are just trying to tell you something that they don’t have words for yet.
slehan at juno dot com
Marnie Bergstrom says
Bottom line, it means the baby needs you!