Crying Is Newborns’ Communication Tool

Why do newborn babies cry?

Crying is babies' way to influence the environment and get their needs attended. It is their “the tool” of communication. Surely enough it excites mothering instinct in anyone who hears it; and the mothers can barely hold themselves back.

Newborns have a very expressive cry

The tone and intensity differs depending on the urgency and severity of the situation; as a little baby perceives it.

And newborns interpret their needs pretty well. Partly the reaction provoked is also dependent on individual temperamental instinct.

Over a period of time mothers and all the others involved in newborn care learn to recognize different tones and their implications. Thereby, most often than not, babies can be easily calmed once their needs are met. However, babies whose fathers undergo despair during the pregnancy are often difficult to console.

Crying in newborns is rarely associated with tremulousness. Usually it is accompanied only by increase activity of arms and legs.

Do newborns sob?

Sobbing is usually not seen in newborns. It may appear sometimes after prolonged crying, which is often noticed in the babies of the mothers who are overly tense and concerned about parenting newborns and newborn health.

Common demanding situations for newborns

Uncomfortable feling

  • Hunger

  • Sleepiness

  • Colic

  • Caught up belch:
    Uneasy feel due to transient inability to burp.

  • Thirst:
    In warm countries, a baby may get thirsty, especially if formula fed. These babies refuse to accept the milk but happily accept few sucks of water and quieten down.

  • Pain

  • Feeling unwell

Uncomfortable environment

  • Weather: Too cold or too hot.

    1.) It is important for mothers to remember that newborns have very variable tolerance to warm and cold stimuli.

    2.) Besides, they are more responsive to temperatures below their body temperature than a thermal stimulus above that point.

  • Loud noises startle
    Loud noises startle babies, especially during early infancy.
    It indicates that the baby does not desire the stimulation.

  • Bright lights are disturbing 
    Baby's room should be lit with soothing uniform light.
    Colorful bright lights often disturb the newborn infants.

  • Dark Room can get scary.

  • Insecure feelings:
    It may be call for safety from unknown fears.
    May wish to be held close and reassured.
    Also read "Child of Rage"

  • Stuffy feeling:
    Wish to be taken out for a stroll. 
    Need for fresh air.
    Has blocked nose.

  • Dirty diaper
    Call for need to change.

Crying that indicates prompt medical attention for an infant

  • Persistent and inconsolable.

  • Sick baby.

  • Fever in an infant less than 3 months of age.

  • Breathing difficulty or breath holding spells.

  • Cold hands and feet with bluish discoloration.

  • Lethargy.

  • Persistent irritability.

  • Frequent vomiting.

  • Bloody stools.

  • Rash.

  • Bulging anterior fontanelle, the soft spot on head.
    How can I make out it is bulging or not? 
    Feel the bulge as you move your hand lightly over child's head; see the picture to know how to do it.

  • Episodes associated with injury.

  • Hoarse voice.

  • Asymmetry of face.

    This is seen in cases of facial nerve palsy, which usually is a transient phenomenon, but best if evaluated by a medical professional.

  • Episodic inconsolability in newborns

    Though a few episodes per day are common in neonates, but are best if evaluated promptly by a medical professional.


Besides the needs, newborns display their primary emotions like frustation, fear and anger by crying. In such situations, parents find difficult to console their disturbed baby. Their own anxiety and emotions add to the baby's distress.

Newborns respond to emotion of love in response to stroking and hugging:

  • Hold the baby snugly against yourself
    It gives the warmth, feeling of security and transmits affectionate hug. Besides, the baby can hear familiar sound of your rhythmic heart beats that she heard even before birth.

  • Neonates respond to the sound pitch, intensity and duration.
    Pure tones of high intensity are more disturbing than pure tones of lower intensity. This explains the principle behind the effectiveness of the low-pitched and low-intensity lullaby in quietening the disturbed neonate.The response is most marked when the baby is awake and quite.

  • Swaddling the baby
    Wrapping the baby gently in soft baby blankets also has a soothing effect on the babies.

  • Breast feeding the baby
    Optimal latching is difficult when the baby is disturbed, but if the sucking is initiated and a reassuring eye to eye contact maintained the baby begins to calm down.

These methods are easily said than practiced. Mother's anxiety and emotional commotion in the family of an irritable crying newborn is a parenting challenge

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