Here's what your baby's trying to tell you: 6 cries and what they mean

Your baby uses different cries to tell you different things, much like words. Do you understand what each means?

Here's what your baby's trying to tell you: 6 cries and what they mean

Your baby uses different cries to tell you different things, much like words. Do you understand what each means?
  • It's normal to feel frustrated when your little one is screaming in distress. Your baby is trying to communicate her needs, but that communication may be falling on deaf ears (or ears that will probably go deaf after hearing those huge screams).

  • However, you can learn to recognize what each of your baby's cries means, alleviating both your own and your baby's frustration.

  • Much like words, each cry has a tone and cadence that communicates a specific need.

  • We've compiled a list of your baby's most common needs and the type of cry that communicates them. With a careful ear, you'll be able to understand what each of your baby's wails mean.

  • I'm hungry

  • When your baby is hungry, she expresses it with a rhythmic cry that rises and falls repetitively. Because crying isn't her first response to hunger, by the time she cries, her hunger is pretty intense, meaning her cry is pretty intense as well.

  • Try to avoid letting your baby get to the point of hunger that she's expressing it through crying. You can recognize that your baby is hungry before she cries because she'll give you signs such as waking up, moving her hands to her face, smacking her lips and making sucking noises.

  • I'm uncomfortable (diaper change)

  • A cry of discomfort is whiny and nasally. She is trying to tell you that she needs a diaper change, the car seat buckle to quit poking her, the light to get out of her eyes or myriad other things (so good luck figuring that one out after you interpret her cry).

  • I'm scared

  • A scared cry sounds like a screech. Her face will also probably look startled. She probably won't express this until about 6 months. As an infant, she doesn't have fear, but as she develops an awareness of the world, her fears may increase. For example, as she learns faces, she may become upset when in the presence of a face she doesn't recognize.

  • I'm overstimulated

  • Your little one isn't used to all the things going on in this world. If she's inconsolably letting out a whiny, fussy cry, she's saying she's overstimulated. Your baby will also probably turn her head away from noise, movement or other stimuli.

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  • I'm tired

  • This cry starts out slowly. She will fuss and whimper (usually while rubbing her eyes) but, with time, the cry will increase in both tone and intensity.

  • I have colic

  • Colic cries are very intense wails or screams. The cry will be accompanied by tense movements (for example, clenched fists and an arched back), and your baby's face may flush. This crying will seem to have no other cause.

  • You will also recognize colic by the "rule of three," meaning your baby cries for three hours at a time, at least three days a week, for at least three weeks in a row.

  • As your little one is learning how to interact with the world, you can help her by getting her a stroller that changes as her needs change. Strolly is the 3-in-1 stroller that transforms into a trike when your baby becomes not so much a baby.

Melinda Fox has a bachelor's degree in English and is the Sponsored Content Manager for She loves Shakespeare, listening to her favorite songs on repeat and journaling. Find her at


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