Have you heard of the Infant Cries Translator App? This mobile phone application aims to decode the reason why a newborn baby cries between things such as hunger, tiredness, pain or a wet diaper.
In 2015, a group of researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital Yunlin developed this application through a two-year study which involves recording 200,000 baby sounds from 100 newborns and compiling them into a huge online database. The app works by listening to your crying baby for around 15 seconds, compares it to the database and interprets the results. According to the study, the accuracy of the results were up to 92% for under 2 week-old babies and up to 84 % for 2 months old and below. Isn’t it an amazing tool for us parents?
I bet a lot of first-time parents (or even experienced parents) can relate to this struggle with regards to our baby’s crying episodes. This is especially true during the first three months when we may find it hard to guess the reason why our little angel is crying. Without knowing the root of the problem, it will also be difficult for us to address our baby’s needs. Hence, knowing why our little baby cries is important in order for us to give them the optimum care and appropriate intervention in a timely manner.
In this article, we’ll look over the primary reasons why babies cry so frequently, and how you can help them feel better.
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Why Do Newborn Babies Cry?
Let’s make it simple. Babies cry because it is their only means of communication with their primary caregivers. They are still at the basic stage of their linguistic skills so it is understandable that they use crying to signal us that they need something or that they feel something wrong.
It is often difficult to determine what our baby is trying to tell us in the beginning. It will need time, patience and continuous practice until we are able to easily distinguish what seems to be causing the crying episode. To help you easily sort out things, let us consider the four general reasons as to why a baby cries in accordance with the research study mentioned earlier.
1. The Baby Is Hungry.
Food is a basic need and most likely, it will be the primary reason why our baby gets our attention. Being extra observant, we’ll notice that our baby may also show other indicators that they are already hungry like rooting reflex (he’ll move his head to suck when you place your finger near his mouth), lip smacking and placing their hands in their mouth. When you are carrying your baby, he may also continuously rub his face towards your chest. Sometimes, you may notice these signs even before the crying episode. Feeding your baby at least every two hours will help you keep him full and minimize this problem.
2. They Might Be Too Tired And Sleepy.
A newborn baby needs ample time to rest and take a break from the various stimulants he encounters from his new environment. After being awake and jolly for a few hours, infants tend to become irritable and restless. This may signal that your baby wants to sleep.
Before putting your baby to sleep, it is important to ensure that he is comfortable and relaxed, or else he will persistently cry. Cleaning your baby and removing his dirty clothes or diapers will help him feel fresh and comfortable. You may also try a mild, soothing baby massage or play a lullaby to help him relax his senses and fall asleep faster.
3. They Might Be Feeling Something Painful Or Are Uncomfortable.
It is indeed very hard to guess if a baby is crying due to pain. However, if your baby seems to be relaxed or asleep for a while and then suddenly, he cries his lungs out, your instincts would tell you that there might be something that hurt your baby. It can range from an insect bite to a more unnoticeable source like a hair tourniquet.
A hair tourniquet is a common condition wherein an infant’s finger or toe might be tightly wrapped by fine hairs. It can cause pain and impede the blood circulation in the finger or toe. Some parents report that sometimes a hair tourniquet is found on the genital of their baby boy, too. Parents may find it hard to detect this for the first time. Pediatricians would often check for a hair tourniquet first when a baby is brought to their clinic due to a persistent crying episode.
Infants might also cry out of discomfort. It might be due to some itchy clothing tags, uncomfortable position or a gas build-up in their stomach.
Burping your baby after feeding will help minimize stomach discomforts. You can easily burp a baby by placing him or her upright on your shoulder or giving them “tummy time”. Some parents use the technique of moving their baby’s legs in a bicycle motion to help get rid of the gas.
4. They Might Simply Want A Diaper Change.
If we try to put ourselves in the place of our young infant, wearing a diaper isn’t something we would want to endure for a couple of hours. Just imagine how a diaper can make our bottom part feel awkward and itchy. So what more if the diaper is soiled or wet? We are sure to freak out, too!
A diaper that is soaked with urine or soiled with stools might be the reason why your little baby cries relentlessly. Some babies might be more sensitive to wet diapers than others. However, it is also helpful to make a habit of checking your baby’s diaper from time to time.
Younger infants, specifically those who are less than one month old, have yet to develop their muscle and sphincter control. Thus, you may notice that they often “poop” several times all throughout the day and night. Don’t worry as this is a normal part of their development and they will outgrow it. Never hesitate to change your baby’s diaper even when there is only a little bit in it, since leaving it there would lead to diaper rash later on.
Apart from these 4 general categories, there might also be other reasons why babies cry. Let’s take a look at the following common causes:
5. They Need Your Attention.
Babies love to be carried around and feel closer to their mothers. It somewhat creates a sense of security for them to feel your heartbeat just like when they were still inside the womb. Sometimes, your baby would just want to have some cuddle time and eye to eye contact to feel the warmth and love he needs from you.
Though this may sound ideal, carrying or cuddling your baby all the time might not be applicable in a real setting. This is especially true with parents who also have older kids to attend to. To help ease your baby’s troubles, some experienced parents advice of swaddling a baby.
Have you noticed the way your baby was wrapped when brought to you from the nursery? Swaddling a baby involves wrapping him with a comfortable baby blanket to keep him warm and secure. This also helps reduce his tendency to get startled in response to a loud sound.
If your infant is too old to be swaddled, you may want to think of ‘wearing your baby’ instead. ‘Wearing your baby’ using a reliable sling or front carrier will offer your arms some relief while keeping your baby as close to your body as possible. While baby wearing, you can simultaneously do some other household chores or attend to your older children.
6. They Might Feel Too Cold Or Too Warm.
Newborns are often too sensitive to temperature changes. Feeling too much coldness or warmth might also trigger a crying episode for a young infant. Some parents make it a rule to cloth their infant one layer more than what they wear. Nevertheless, what’s comfortable for your infant will greatly depend on the weather and temperature. Remember to invest in comfortable baby clothes that suit the season.
7. They Might Have An Episode Of Colic.
An infant may have persistent crying episodes due to colic. Pediatricians identify colic via the “Rules of Three”, namely:
- The baby cries for at least 3 hours
- The crying episode happens at least 3 days per week
- Persistent crying episode for at least 3 weeks in a row
Colic isn’t a disease. It is an abdominal pain common to some infants that they will eventually outgrow. Most colic episodes peak at around six weeks of age then it will gradually decline by the time a baby reaches 10 to 12 weeks old.
The exact cause of colic remains unknown. Experts suggest that it may be due to some discomfort brought about by over-stimulation from the new environment or a pre-mature digestive system. Keeping the baby calm and relaxed would help minimize the colic episodes. Ensuring a minimal gas build-up within the stomach by burping the baby after feeding is also helpful.
When To Seek Medical Attention
When the crying episode seems to be persistent and you have tried all the possible solutions, you may need to seek help from a professional. Prompt medical attention is also a must if your baby develops other symptoms like fever, chills, rash, vomiting or diarrhea. Your little one might be feeling something really bad and it will be difficult for you to identify it on your own. Bringing him to a pediatrician for a routine check-up will help you identify the potential source of the problem and address it properly.