• Virginie Levine

Decoding Your Newborn's Cries

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

It is so frustrating to hear our baby cries while trying to guess the appropriate soothing response. Some say that babies have their language. Their cries and physical cues are reflex-based, triggered by needs and feelings. Once we detect the first cues, cry can be avoided, yet this ability takes some observation, patience, and practice. What are the basic needs that a baby tries to communicate:

1. Hunger

2. Sleepiness overstimulation

3. Boredom needing connection or entertainment

4. Discomforts (change of position, soiled diaper, too cold, too warm, change os scenery)

5. Passing gas

6. Pain

Behind the sound and Intensity


Crying is a baby escalated form of communication. Before the cry, there is a multitude of signs. It is true it increases quickly. What some call crying a language is only an array of sounds. For parents, it can help while learning to encrypt it to view this excruciating, painful sound to what it is. A supportive breath, passing through the vocal cords, creating a specific sound, amplified by the placement of the tongue and the shape of the mouth. Imagine you are singing vowels, there are some closed and some more open. By doing this mental recognition, you learn to emotionally detach so you can start to identify, learn your baby's specific sounds and ultimately apply the right response promptly. I will probably post about it in the future because as parents or caregivers, it is essential to learn how to stay grounded and respond to your baby in a non-emotional way.

But what does that mean?


Assume you don't have access to the verb yet, and the only way to communicate your needs, feelings, and emotions would be within your entire body. Let's say you are in a crib on your back and you are getting hungry, how would you communicate this? First, you would thrust your tongue, a very common reflex for suckling in the first few months of life. Food is not yet coming your way, and fast enough, you would open your mouth wider, intensify that call a notch up, squirm around moving legs, arms, and fists; And very soon from thrusting your tongue to open mouth and squirming, your breath will drop deeper in your abdomen, and you would start to fuss and cry in higher pitch. Here is summed up a normal hunger cue progression.

For each need, a sound


Babies have a different sound for a specific need or feeling, and it takes some practice and patience to become baby's best interpreter. Here are a few elemental sounds that you will very quickly learn to interpret:


High Pitch


1. Hunger sound "Neh" the tip tongue touches behind the upper teeth, sides of the tongue slightly curled up

2. Fatigue sound" Owh" the sound is based on the yawn reflex. The tongue is flat at the bottom of the oval-shaped mouth. The sound is high, slow, and rhythmic

3. Burp sound "Eh" the burp sound. Obvious placement of the mouth

Pain is usually a non-stop high pitch sound, arching back.

Low Pitch


4. Discomfort sound "Heh" the H sound brings an exhaling sound to the cry

5. Colic pain sound "Eair" same as the hunger sound, but coming from the lower abdomen, bringing the pressure down with a constraint on the vocal cords. Babies accompany this sound by bringing their legs up usually

Get on quickly


It is essential to address promptly to each of your newborn cues, knowing that fusses and cries are late stages of communication. After 16 weeks of age, infants may continue these sounds or not, depending on how responsive parents were from birth. Babies are like anyone else's behaviors; if they didn't receive adequate engagement, they end up shutting down. They don't even try anymore to express that particular need. In that case, be aware that silent babies may not always be a positive behavior. Again subtle observation is key! Learn your newborn sounding cues and body language, like

  • Open/closed fists, rooting, vigorous suckling

  • Rubbing eyes, moving attention away

  • Squirming, bringing legs up, arching back

  • Respond as soon as possible

  • Don't wait for her to reach a full-blown cry

  • And keep consistent care



Patience and sensitive observation


Distinguishing your newborn's needs help genuinely:


  • Bond with her

  • Develop a great baby understanding

  • Practice your patience and listening skills

  • Reframe anxiety and exhaustion

  • Empower you as parents

Good practice! #babycry #mothers #fathers #parenting #colic #reflux #newborn #babies #cries #babycues #osteopathie #massage #ritual #premature #holistic #babysigns #basiccare

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