Babies cry a lot. Some more than others. It’s the only way they can tell us that they need something before they learn to gesture and talk. Sometimes we try to sort out what that is by trial and error. Hungry? Nope. Tired? Nope. Wet diaper? Ahhh, yes that’s it. The good news is that babies’ cries actually sound different based on what they need. You’ll have to tune your ear carefully to hear that underlying sound, but once you do, it becomes easier.
The following article guides you through what the different cry “sounds” mean. You might think all cries are the same, but when you really listen, you’ll hear the difference. Cries are easier to decode when they first start. They're softer, less demanding, and the sounds more pronounced. The longer a baby cries, the louder it gets. A full blown cry sounds like an alarm bell, making interpretation tough--especially since it rattles parents’ brains too. Once you master the language of your baby’s cries, you’ll be much better equipped to attend to their needs quickly, making for a quieter and happier house.
10 “Neh” Means I’m Hungry
If your baby’s cry sounds like “neh, neh,” it means they're hungry. As the sucking reflex kicks in, the baby’s tongue moves towards the roof of their mouth, which creates the “neh” sound. Time to feed that precious bundle!
9 “Eh” Means I Need to Burp
When you hear that telltale “eh, eh” cry, it means “burp me please!” It’s actually similar to a sound an adult might make if they are trying to burp. Little tummies can get very uncomfortable without relieving all that trapped air, so this cry will escalate if not dealt with in a timely fashion
8 “Eair” Means I Have Lower Gas Pain
This sound is deeper as it comes from the abdomen. Your baby might provide other clues as well like bending their knees towards their chest. You can help relieve this discomfort by rubbing their bellies or by laying them across your forearm and rubbing their backs.
7 “Owh” Means I’m Tired
If your baby’s cry sounds like “owh, owh”, it means they're tired. This sound is actually made in the reflex of a yawn, so when you hear it, it’s nap time. You can, of course, look for other signs like eye-rubbing and actual yawning, too.
6 “Heh” Means I’m Uncomfortable
When your baby does a “heh, heh” cry, it generally means discomfort. This doesn’t mean pain, per se, but rather a wet diaper, too cold, don’t want to lie on my back anymore, etc. You may need to do a little investigating to figure out the root cause, but at least you can rule out several other things.
5 The Pain Cry
You’ll become familiar with this cry as soon as you hear it because it doesn’t start out quietly. It is immediately loud and penetrating, and your instincts will make you run to your child. The cry will be loud and long followed by a quiet moment when your baby catches his or her breath. Hopefully, you can find the source of the pain quickly.
4 The Overstimulated Cry
To understand this cry, you’ll need to consider your baby’s environment. Is it loud and boisterous? Are there oodles of people trying to get your baby’s attention? Is your baby being passed around from person to person? If your baby closes his or her eyes, turns away from stimuli, and starts crying for no apparent reason, it might be overstimulation. Remove them for some downtime.
3 The Bored Cry
Babies may seem easy to entertain since everything in the world is new to them, but they can get bored. A cry of boredom usually sounds whiny and fussy. The fix is often easy. Just shift their perspective a little, give them a new toy to play with, or engage them with a song or book.
2 Colic Crying
Colic is characterized by excessive and inconsolable crying. You’ve tried everything you can think of to soothe your baby and yet they're still crying. Often the “rule of threes” is used to assess colic: crying lasts for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week, for more than three weeks in a row. There are calming tactics you can employ, but it will be a trying time for parents until the colic passes.
1 The Cuddle Me Cry
Sometimes, your baby just wants to be held. Your warmth, your smell, your heartbeat, and your soothing voice is comforting. This cry may sound whiny and fussy and may be combined with your infant searching for you. This cry is easy and wonderful to remedy. Just pick your baby up and cuddle. It’s also a perfect time for you two to have a nap together.