Decoding the Cries of a Newborn Baby

Apart from health concerns, the leading cause of frustration for parents of a newborn baby is the incessant crying episodes. Learn how to predict and curb your child from wailing by spotting the signs and predicting her needs.

Crying is the only way a newborn baby communicates with his/her parents. It is a means to express their displeasure and need; a means to call attention. All babies cry, and some doctors concur with the long held view that it is innate infant behavior, something that is unavoidable. On average, a newborn baby cries from anywhere between one and six hours. This crying behavior can range from mild whimpering to intense howling and screaming. Learn how to make sense of this behavior by understanding the reasons why babies cry.

The first reason to consider is that your newborn baby might be hungry since infants need to eat about 6 to 8 times a day. If it has been anywhere between 90 minutes to three hours since the last time the little one was nursed, it may explain the crying. A hungry infant will rarely stop crying until s/he is fed. Breastfeeding is the best method since the mother’s milk is packed with nutrients. After feeding, hold the child upright and run your hands over his/her back to encourage him/her to belch; otherwise gas will build up in the tummy and lead to another crying session. Health experts suggest that the child be breastfed until the first birthday, but the minimum duration should be six months.

A baby needs to have his/her diaper changed as often as s/he is fed.  The frequency of a wet diaper is almost equal to the number of times the newborn baby is nursed. Any less and it is a sign that the infant is either dehydrated or not eating properly. Learn to pick up the signs, particularly if the wailing occurs after a few hours of feeding.

Whimpering accompanied by kicking and hand movements’ is a sign that the newborn baby is annoyed or bored or perhaps even over-stimulated. An infant who is bothered by any of the above factors will call the attention of his caregivers initially by slight whining, and when s/he does not receive due attention the response may be crying. When you notice any signs that the child is bothered or irritated, respond by first observing the surroundings: are there too many people around him/her? Is s/he too hot? Are his/her clothes the cause of the irritation?

Sometimes the infant may simply crave some attention. S/he will begin to cry and usually smile or laugh at the first sign of his/her parents, either when they come into sight, or at the sound of their voice. Ensure your infant receives plenty of love and cuddling. To enhance bonding sessions, try the Kangaroo Mother Care technique; babies have been known to sleep better when parents regularly practice Kangaroo Mother Care.

If the child cries while rubbing the eyes, it could indicate that it is time for some shut-eye. A newborn baby needs to sleep for almost 16 hours a day since the body is growing rapidly. Maximum development takes place during sleep, and if the infant does not receive ample sleep it may be detrimental to his /her immune system.

For more information on newborn baby care through Kangaroo Mother Care, please visit  Tony and Nyrie Roos are a resource for natural parenting practices and kangaroo mother care.