Understanding the 5 Different Types of Baby Cries

Understanding What your Baby’s Cry Means – 5 Different Baby Cries

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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Babies communicate through crying and making sounds that are hard to decipher. Parents tend to categorize cries of the baby either as a sign of hunger or of wetness. After thorough research on baby cries, the Dunstan Baby Method was scientifically established to give an insight to parents on different baby cries!

Video: Understanding What Your Baby’s Cry Means

They say that a mother and her baby share a special bond. A bond formed without words but mostly through intuitive understanding. However, when a baby starts crying, even an experienced mother becomes helpless. Though the different newborn cries may seem similar, there are stark differences amongst them. Decoding your baby’s cries can get tougher each passing day!

The Dunstan Method of understanding baby cries was found by Priscilla Dunstan, an Australian mother. When listening to the sounds of her newborn’s crying, she discovered 5 sounds that all babies use while crying and they all mean different things! She tested her theory on different babies and found it to be true! While the theory still requires complete scientific backing, it is a great way to interpret what your little one is trying to communicate.

Reasons Why Babies Cry

Use the below expert-guide for understanding baby cries. Also, watch the video below to hear all these baby cries and understand exactly how they sound!

1. Hunger Cry – ‘Neh’

If the cry of the baby begins with the sound of ‘neh’, it means that the baby is hungry. Usually, this sound is produced when the baby touches her tongue to the roof of the mouth and the sucking reflex is activated.

Solution: This is one of the best baby crying cues to detect hunger. The obvious solution to stop a baby from crying is to feed her.

2. Sleepy Cry – ‘Owh’

Feeling sleepy is one of the leading causes of a baby crying. When the baby is sleepy she is likely to cry ‘owh’ sound to indicate her drowsiness. Your baby crying at night indicates that she is tired. Often it is accompanied by yawns and rubbing of the eye.

Solution: A sleepy baby just wants to be put down in a comfortable position and allowed to sleep peacefully.

3. Uncomfortable Cry – ‘Heh’

A baby might be uncomfortable for reasons such as a wet diaper or is cold or itchy. Discomfort is one of the main reasons why newborn babies cry. In this case, the baby begins with ‘heh’, which is similar to ‘neh’ and can create confusion.

Solution: Try to understand the reason behind the baby’s discomfort and help her calm down. Also, check the room’s temperature.

4. Painful Cry – ‘Eair’

Pain could also be one of the reasons babies cry. A baby crying in pain will make a sound of ‘eair’ it usually means trouble in the lower abdomen resulting in gas. In such a case, the baby pulls up the knees to her chest or kicks her legs out.

Solution: Burp your baby through the day after feeds to ensure no gas builds up. You should hold the baby and gently tap and rub the back muscles for her to burp.

5. Not-feeling-well Cry – ‘Eh’

Understanding a baby’s cry that denotes feeling unwell is extremely essential, so you can help resolve the problem quickly. This cry is accompanied by an ‘eh’. It is a signal that means that the baby needs to burp.

Solution: Check if your baby shows any signs of illness or infection such as fever, breathing troubles, skin irritation, etc.

Note: Babies can feel unwell/unhappy and still not cry. Check these signs that could mean your baby is unhappy even though he is not crying.

How to Soothe a Crying Baby?

When mothers understand the meaning of the baby’s cry, it is easier to comfort her little one. Deciphering your baby’s cries is tricky in the beginning, especially the reason for the baby crying at night. But once you start listening closely, you will become an expert at interpreting the baby’s cries. Mothers should look for clues in different cries in babies, such as:

  • how long it has been since the baby’s last feed
  • if the baby’s diaper needs changing
  • if the baby has been sleeping adequately for the past few days
  • if the baby shows any symptoms of infection or allergy such as a skin rash, breathing problems, redness, etc.

Soothing a crying baby is never easy but with attention to the sound and syllables of the cry, it can get better with time. Some simple tricks that work for many moms are massaging the feet and toes in a circular motion, blowing bubbles on the tummy, rocking the baby for some time, and singing or talking in a comforting voice.

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