Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby’s Cries

It could be overwhelming for a new parent to cope with and understand the meaning of their baby’s cries. However, it is important that we thoroughly understand them since this is the only means that your baby can communicate to you in his/her first few months. It is your baby’s way of telling you that something is wrong or he/she is feeling unwell. Interpreting your baby’s cries is undeniably complicated since there are a lot of cries for a lot of different reasons, however, there is still a way that can make understanding your baby’s cries a little bit easier. All you need is time, patience, and of course, some guidance to figure out what your baby is trying to say. In this article, I have written a few steps on decoding baby’s cries to make your parenting easier. But before we proceed, let us first have a background on babies’ cries.


Main Reasons Why Your Baby is Crying

He/she is hungry

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Hungry - Photo credit:

This is the most common reason why babies cry. This is characterized by a rhythmic, repetitive and low-pitched sound. If you hear this, all you need to do is feed the baby. According to Paul Horowitz, MD, of Discovery Pediatrics in Valencia, California, crying is a late sign of hunger. Thus, if you want to prevent your baby from crying because of hunger, look for early signs like fussing, lip smacking, and rooting. Rooting is your baby’s tendency to turn his/her head towards your hand when you stroke his/her cheek in an attempt to find breast or bottle.

Dirty diaper

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Dirty diaper - Photo credit:

Some babies don’t mind having a dirty diaper or can tolerate them for quite a while but some babies can’t stand it. However, a dirty diaper may cause irritation which causes your baby to cry. This cry of discomfort is characterized by a whiny, nasal, continuous cry. Still, it only takes a quick check whether your baby has dirty diaper or not.

He/she is tired

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Tired - Photo credit:

Getting a lot of attention may over-stimulate your baby and cause him to be overtired and it is actually not easy for a baby to fall asleep if he/she is in this state. You can usually hear a cry of discomfort accompanied by eye rubbing if your baby is tired. You can also observe that your baby whines and cries at the slightest things. To stop your baby from crying, isolate your baby from too many people, make him/her comfortable, hum him/her a lullaby and put him/her to sleep.

He/she is not feeling well

This is a very important thing that you should be aware of in order to tend to it immediately and avoid making your baby’s condition worse. If your baby is not feeling well, you will hear a cry that is distinct to his/her usual cry. Check your baby’s temperature to check if he/ she has a fever. If you feel there’s something wrong with your baby, trust your instinct and see a doctor.

He/she needs to burp

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Not feeling well - Photo credit:

During breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your baby tends to swallow air. This air may cause discomfort to your baby causing him/her to cry. In order to release this air, tap or rub your baby’s back.

He/she is not comfortable

A lot of factors may cause your baby to be uncomfortable so it is up to you to observe the situation and take action. Some examples, however, are that your baby feels too hot or too cold, their outfit is itchy, the room is too noisy, or the light is too bright.

He/she just needs to be held

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Needs to be held - Photo credit:

Babies need a lot of cuddling and comfort from their parents. They love to see their parents’ faces, hear their breathings and voices, and feel their warmth. Tend to your baby by holding him/her close to you and saying or rocking him then humming him a song.

Five Baby Languages

According to Dunstan baby language, there are five universal languages that every baby during their first three months, regardless of race, speaks of. I do not recommend that you fully rely on this, however, I believe that this can help you in decoding baby’s cries more easily. Here are the five Dustan baby language sounds.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Five baby languages - Photo credit:


When your baby makes this sound, it means that he/she is hungry. This sound is made due to your baby’ sucking reflex. When determining this sound, you should hear a distinctive “n” sound at the start of each cry.


Making this sound means that your baby needs to burp. This sound is created because the baby is trying to expel the gas on his/her own but cannot do so.


Hearing this sound means that your baby is uncomfortable. There are many reasons for discomfort so you need to judge the cause depending on the situation. Examples are dirty diaper, too hot or too cold, and itchy clothes. This sound is a bit tricky to distinguish from the “Eh” sound but one way to do so is to pay attention to a “breathy” sound.


This means that your baby is suffering from gas below their belly. You can hear this from your baby with a sound of urgency. You can also observe that your baby is making unpleasant facial expressions and moving his/her legs up and down.


When you hear this sound from your baby, it means that he/she is sleepy. This sound is created because of the yawn reflex which is incorporated to the baby’s cry. Pay attention to the baby’s mouth when deciphering this sound. It will more likely make an oval shape.

Decoding Baby’s Cries

Step 1. Tend to your baby immediately if he/she cries.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Tend to your baby immediately - Photo credit:

It is best to tend your baby immediately when he/she cries so that you will not have a hard time decoding your baby’s cries. It is easier to interpret a cry when it is still just starting than when it comes to its full blow. When your baby is still at the start of crying and is a little bit calm, it is easier to decipher the sounds compared to when your baby is going hysterical. Imagine yourself trying to understand what your baby needs when he/she is all hysterical and finicky. It will surely be chaotic and you may even tend to panic.

Step 2. Listen to your baby.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Listen to your baby - Photo credit:

Listen to your baby and figure out what sound he/she is making based on what I have discussed above. Make sure to listen carefully since these sounds may sound similar and confusing. Make sure to differentiate between the sounds “Neh”, “Heh”, and “Eh”. Also pay attention to your baby’s crying pattern, pitch, tone, and delivery to help you in decoding what your baby needs. For example, if your baby is hungry, his/her cry may sound desperate and unrelenting; if he/she is bored or overstimulated, his/her cry is not that loud and is often staccato; if he/she is uncomfortable, his/her cry sounds forced and whiny; if he/she is tired, it will sound breathy and helpless; and if he/she is in pain, it will sound piercing and grating.

Step 3. Watch his/her facial expression.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Watch his/her facial expression - Photo credit:

Facial expressions may also show why your baby is crying. In addition to listening to your baby, it may help you understand what your baby is trying to convey to you. For example, an annoyed or uncomfortable baby may scrunch up his/her face.

Step 4. Observe for signs.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Observe for signs - Photo credit:

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what your baby’s cry means even after carefully and thoroughly listening to the sound they make and looking at their facial expression, or if you want to confirm whether what you decode is right, you may try to observe for certain signs. Babies in pain tend to arch their back or thrash and they may pull on their ear when they are sick. If your baby starts to cry when you undress him/her for a bath, then that means he/she is cold. If your baby cries because he/she is dirty, you can just quickly check his/her diaper. If he/she is sleepy he may rub his/her eyes.

Step 5. Get to know your baby.

Amazing Ways of Decoding Baby's Cries

Get to know your baby - Photo credit:

Although there are signs, tips, and clues on how to decode a baby’s cry, every baby is still different so delivering their thoughts through their cries may still slightly vary. It is best that you get to know your baby in the process and understand his/her every gesture so that you can attend to your baby’s every need without too much hassle.


As parents, we want to give our baby the best care that we can give. However, we cannot deny that taking care of a baby is a tedious task. One of the challenges that we face in taking care of a baby is to understand why they cry and tend to their needs. However, although it may seem quite impossible to understand what every cry of our baby means, there is actually a way to determine them. All you need is to pay more attention to their gestures and the sound of their cries, have a lot of patience, and seek a bit of guidance. I hope this article helps you with the later as it tackles topics about babies cries and lays down some steps on decoding baby’s cries.

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Rosanna Mai

I am a new parent with a 1 year old and my husband's lives. Although still new to parenthood, I can give a lot of valuable info on financial management in the home, DIY projects to save money, and generally the frugal way of living.

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