Why Do Babies Cry? | The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Baby’s Cries

Are you a parent of a toddler? If so, chances are that, like other parents, you’ve experienced your baby crying for seemingly no reason. Babies cry and scream all the time — and it can be stressful and overwhelming! But before panicking in frustration, remember that babies cry for different reasons. 

Identifying why your baby is crying is essential to being a successful parent. In this article, I will help you understand why babies may cry and discuss strategies for responding when things get tough. Let’s discover the mysteries behind these cries (and hopefully help soothe your frazzled nerves!).

Overview of why babies cry

Babies cry to let their caregivers know what they need. Here are some in-depth explanations of why babies cry:


This is the most common reason why babies cry. As their stomach is small and they burn calories quickly, they must eat frequently, sometimes as often as every two hours. When babies are hungry, their cries usually start as a low-pitched sound and become high-pitched if they are not fed on time. These cries are rhythmic and can get louder and more intense over time.

If you notice that your baby’s cries follow this pattern and they are reaching their usual feeding time, chances are they are hungry. You can also look for other signs of hunger, like smacking their lips, putting hands in their mouth, or turning their head in search of the breast or bottle.

Discomfort due to a dirty diaper

The feel of a wet or soiled diaper may make newborns scream because it is pretty painful for them. This type of crying can be intermittent and may start as a fussy, whiny cry that can escalate if the discomfort continues. You may notice that your baby seems restless and is kicking their legs more than usual.

Their face might scrunch up in discomfort, and they might try to reach down towards their diaper. If you notice these signs, checking their diapers is a good idea. Not all babies cry when their diaper is wet or soiled, so regular checks are essential, too. Remember, some babies might continue to call for a few minutes even after the diaper changes as they settle down from the uncomfortable experience.

Temperature Sensitivity


Babies are sensitive to temperature changes, making it another common reason to cry. They can become uncomfortable and call if they are too hot or cold. These cries may sound more distressed and tense. The baby might also show signs of restlessness or become unusually quiet.

Physically, they might have cold hands or feet, or their skin might feel too warm. If your baby’s sleepwear is damp with sweat or they seem to be shivering, then it’s likely that the temperature is not correct. Always ensure to dress your baby in layers, allowing you to take off or add clothes as needed to keep them cosy.

It’s always a good idea to feel their belly or the back of their neck to check their temperature, as these are more accurate indicators than their hands or feet. If you come across these signs, try adjusting the room temperature, changing their clothing, or modifying the amount of blankets you use.

Tiredness or Overstimulation

One of the less obvious reasons babies cry is tiredness or overstimulation. Babies have a limited capacity to handle activity and stimulation, and when subjected to an overload of sounds, sights, or social interaction, they might feel overwhelmed and respond by crying.

These cries can start as fussiness and become consistent, high-pitched, and distressing if the baby doesn’t rest. Signs of an overtired baby can include yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling their ears, or having a glazed look in their eyes.

Overstimulated babies, on the other hand, might look away, arch their backs, or show other signs of discomfort or disinterest. If you notice these signs, consider reducing stimulation and helping your baby relax or get to sleep. Remember, everyone needs some downtime – babies are no exception.

Needs Comforting

Sometimes, babies need a cuddle or a soothing touch. They might be seeking comfort due to a feeling of anxiety or fear. The gentle rhythm of your heartbeat or the warmth of your skin can calm them and provide a sense of safety and security.

Feeling Unwell

If a baby is unwell, they may express their discomfort through crying. This can include minor discomforts like teething or more severe health concerns. If the crying continues without any apparent reason, or if there are other signs of illness such as fever, lethargy, or a change in feeding or sleeping habits, it’s essential to contact a healthcare professional for advice.

Tummy Troubles

Babies can also cry due to digestive issues. This includes problems like constipation, diarrhoea, or gas that makes them uncomfortable. If your baby cries right after feeding, it could indicate tummy troubles.

Desire for Attention

Babies are social creatures, and they crave attention. They might cry to get your attention if ignored or left alone. To avoid this, spend quality time with your baby, with lots of cuddles, conversation, and play.

Teething Pain

Teething is a painful process for babies. When their teeth start coming in, it can cause discomfort and result in crying. You can help ease this discomfort by providing safe teething toys and by gently rubbing their gums with a clean finger.

General Discomfort

Sometimes, babies cannot find a comfortable settling position or are irritated by a tag in their clothing or a scratchy blanket. Ensure your baby is comfortable, with appropriate clothing and bedding for the environment.


Colitis is a severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen that is common among infants. There is no known precise cause of colic., but it can result in prolonged periods of vigorous crying. The crying usually occurs in the late afternoon or evening, and the baby might clench their fists, arch their back, or show other signs of tension and discomfort.

Growth Spurts

Babies have growth spurts during which they may cry more often and eat more frequently. These growth spurts usually occur around three months, six months, nine months, 4-6 weeks, and 2-3 weeks of age.

Sensitivity to Noise or Light

Some babies are more sensitive to their environment and may cry in response to loud noises or bright lights. This is their way of telling you they’re feeling overwhelmed and need a quieter, more soothing environment.

Stranger Anxiety or Fear

Babies start recognizing familiar faces around six months of age. Seeing a stranger or unfamiliar face might make them feel scared and cry. This is called stranger anxiety. It’s a normal part of a baby’s development and usually passes with time as they begin to understand that unfamiliar people aren’t necessarily threatening. In the meantime, you can provide comfort and reassurance that they are safe with you. 

Remember, interpreting baby cries comes with time and experience. It can be helpful to keep a diary of when your baby cries and what you have done to comfort them to better understand their needs and patterns.

Strategies for Responding to a Baby’s Cry 

Before we delve into the specific strategies for responding to a baby’s cry, we must understand that each baby is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Patience, observation and understanding are key.

Learning to decode the signals in your baby’s cries is a process that takes time, and it can be a trial-and-error experience. What works one day might not work the next, and that’s perfectly normal. Now, let’s explore various strategies that can be helpful when responding to a baby’s cry.

  1. Addressing Temperature Issues: If your baby’s crying could be due to discomfort from the temperature, try adjusting the room’s thermostat, altering their clothing, or modifying the blankets. Remember, it’s better to dress them in layers so it’s easier to regulate their comfort level.
  2. Managing Tiredness or Overstimulation: If you notice signs of fatigue or overstimulation, create a calm and quiet environment. This might involve keeping your baby close until they settle down, turning off the TV, or decreasing the lights. Creating a consistent sleep routine can also aid in managing their fatigue.
  3. Providing Comfort: Hold your baby close to you. The rhythm of your heartbeat and warmth can give your baby a sense of security. Gently rocking or singing a soft lullaby can also help soothe your baby.
  4. Checking for Illness: If you suspect your baby is unwell, consult a healthcare professional. Never ignore persistent crying alongside other signs of illness such as fever, changes in feeding or sleeping habits.
  5. Alleviating Tummy Troubles: If you suspect digestive issues, try burping the baby more often, changing feeding positions, or consulting with a paediatrician about safe options for relief.
  6. Giving Attention: Talk, cuddle, or play with your baby to engage with it. Babies need social interactions, and these actions can help them feel secure and loved.
  7. Easing Teething Pain: If you think your baby is teething, providing a teething toy or a cold washcloth to chew on can offer some relief. Consult with a paediatrician before using any teething gels or medications.
  8. Ensuring General Comfort: Check your baby’s clothing for any irritating tags. Also, check their diaper, as a wet or soiled diaper can cause discomfort. Please make sure they are in a comfortable position, and their surroundings are suitable.
  9. Managing Colic: If colic is the cause, try holding your baby in different positions, gently massaging their tummy, or using a pacifier. Some parents find that ‘white noise’ can also be soothing.
  10. Handling Growth Spurts: Respond to increased feeding demands during growth spurts. These are temporary periods, and your baby’s eating habits will return to normal soon.
  11. Catering to Sensitivity: If your baby is sensitive to noise or light, create a soothing environment by dimming the lights or reducing noise. 
  12. Offering Reassurance: If a stranger’s anxiety or fear is causing the crying, offer comfort and reassurance. Hold the child close and speak soothingly.

Remember, taking a break is okay if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If your baby’s needs are met, and they’re still crying, place them in a safe spot like a crib and take a few moments for yourself. Consoling a crying baby takes patience and practice; you’ll gradually become more skilled at interpreting and responding to their needs.

Remember to seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals if needed. Caring for a cranky baby can be challenging, but with time and patience, you’ll figure out what works best for your little one.

 Additional Tips

  • Remember to take care of yourself too. Getting enough rest, eating well, and taking breaks to recharge are essential. A well-rested and calm parent can better care for a fussy baby.
  • Feel free to ask for help. It takes a village to raise a child, and there’s no shame in reaching out for support when needed.
  • Trust your instincts as a parent. Every baby is different, and sometimes, feeling overwhelmed and unsure is normal. You know your baby best, so don’t be afraid to trust your intuition.
  • If you’re concerned about your baby’s crying or behaviour, seek professional help. A doctor or paediatrician can provide guidance and support in managing colic, reflux, digestive issues, or any other underlying medical conditions that may be causing excessive crying.  

Strategies for Comforting a Baby After Crying 

After a crying episode, comforting your baby is extremely important to reassure and bring them back to calm. Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Cuddling: Hold your baby close to you. The sound of your heartbeat and your familiar smell can comfort them immensely.
  2. Rocking: Gentle rocking movements can soothe your baby. You could walk with them or rock them in your arms. Using a rocking chair can also be effective.
  3. Soothing Sounds: Soft lullabies or calming music can help relax your baby. The fan’s hum or the sound of a washing machine can also be gentle.
  4. Massage: A gentle baby massage can relax your baby’s muscles, calm them down, and even help them sleep better.
  5. Distraction: If your baby can’t settle down, try distracting them with a toy, a story, or a change of scenery.

Remember, what works best will vary from baby to baby. You may need to experiment with different methods to determine what your baby responds to best.

Tips on Reducing Baby’s Stress Levels and Calming Down 

Reducing your baby’s stress levels and bringing them to a calm state requires patience, understanding, and a handful of tried-and-true strategies. 

  1. Consistency and Routine: Babies thrive on predictability. Create and maintain regular schedules for feeding, sleeping, and playtime. This can give your baby a sense of security and reduce their stress levels. 
  2. Soothing Touch: Skin-to-skin contact can be incredibly comforting for your baby. It helps your baby feel secure and can lower its heart rate and stress levels.
  3. Quiet Environment: A peaceful and quiet environment can help to reduce your baby’s stress levels. Limit loud noises and large crowds, especially during your baby’s downtime.
  4. Swaddling: Swaddling can be calming for your baby as it mimics the womb’s environment. It can also give your baby a sense of security and comfort, helping reduce stress levels.
  5. Breathing Exercises: Breathing exercises help to calm your baby. Gently blowing on your baby’s face can trigger a reflex that can help them to relax and calm down.

Remember, every baby is unique, and not all strategies will work for all babies. Experiment with different methods and see what works best for your child. And remember, if your baby’s stress levels seem unusually high or persistent, consult a paediatrician for professional guidance.

Final Words of Encouragement and Advice

Understanding why and how to respond to your baby’s cries can be a stressful experience, but with the proper knowledge, you can help get through those challenging moments. Determining why your baby is crying can help make parenting much easier and more rewarding. 

Knowing the baby’s cry, such as hunger, exhaustion, or pain, will allow you to anticipate how best to comfort it. Also, creating a calming environment, providing physical comfort, and engaging with your baby interactively are great ways to reduce stress levels and help it feel relaxed. 

With enough practice, you’ll learn to effectively differentiate one cry from another -one of many skills that will be useful when raising babies! Don’t be afraid to reach out if things become overwhelming; plenty of resources are available for parents, so feel free to ask for assistance. 

We understand it’s a bumpy learning curve, but ultimately, connecting with your baby through understanding their cries will result in better outcomes for you and your little one. If you have any further questions, please comment below and tell us your thoughts and whether the article was helpful.

At Parenting Gem, we appreciate feedback as it helps keep us on track with assisting other parents to develop into successful ones!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1: How can I soothe and calm my crying baby?

Soothing a crying baby requires a combination of strategies and approaches, as every baby is unique. Common strategies include cuddling, rocking, playing soothing sounds, baby massage, and distraction. Regular routines, a peaceful environment, skin-to-skin contact, swaddling, and breathing exercises also help reduce the baby’s stress levels. Remember, it’s about finding what works best for your child. If your baby’s crying seems excessive or you are concerned, seeking professional advice is always recommended. 

Q2: How do I know why my baby is crying?

Understanding a baby’s cry can be challenging, but parents can learn to differentiate between different types of cries with time and practice. Some common reasons for crying include hunger, exhaustion, discomfort or pain, and overstimulation. Paying attention to other cues, such as body language and facial expressions, can also help determine the reason for crying. 

Q3: Can I spoil my baby by responding to their cries too often?

No, spoiling a baby by responding to their cries is impossible. Babies cry as a form of communication, and attending to their needs promptly is essential. Responding consistently and lovingly to a baby’s cries can help them develop a sense of security and trust in their caregivers. However, if you feel overwhelmed or exhausted by your baby’s crying, taking breaks and seeking support from others is essential. Responding to your baby’s cries with love and care is the best way to foster a strong bond and healthy relationship. So don’t hesitate to tend to your little one when they need you. You’re doing a great job! 

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