What your crying baby is really trying to tell you

Your baby only knows how to communicate through crying. This is how you know what your baby is really saying.

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  • Being a new mother can be a challenge. No matter what the books or YouTube videos tell you, none of them seem to be right. How do you really know why your baby is crying and what he or she really needs? Pricilla, a mother from Australia, figured it out and realized there are five distinct newborn cries that mean different things. Crying is the only way babies know how to communicate, so understanding what each cry means is important to giving your baby just what he or she needs.

  • 1. "Neh" - Hunger

    When your baby makes the "neh" sound when he or she cries, it means they are hungry. They're feeling hungry if they are making that sharp, needy sound for food to warm their belly. Be sure to pay attention to cries for hunger in order to give your baby just what he or she needs when they ask for it, otherwise it'll just turn into endless screaming.

  • 2. "Eh" - Upper wind (burp)

    While this is more of a sound than a cry, if the discomfort escalates it can make the baby cry even more. The sound the baby makes, "eh" is the beginning of a burp. They're trying to ease the discomfort in the upper part of their chest but it's difficult for their little bodies to do so without help. Motherly pats on the back will help the baby burp and relieve that area of discomfort from their chests.

  • 3. "Eairh" - Lower wind (gas)

    A deeper, more throaty cry making the sound of "Eairh" indicates the baby has gas. Even in adulthood, gas pains are discomforting, which is why babies tend to get a good cry out of the uncomfortable feeling it causes. When you hear this cry from your baby, you can gently massage your baby and pump their legs like they're riding a bike. Having a good amount of tummy time while keeping a careful eye on them can help ease their discomfort and pass gas. If none of those options work, a warm bath will also suffice.

  • 4. "Heh" - Discomfort (hot, cold, wet)

    This is a more staccato sound the baby makes when she's uncomfortable. The sound can get more rapid and turn into an uncomfortable cry if not relieved soon enough. Be sure to check your baby's body temperature to either cool them down, warm them up or change them out of clothes that may be causing discomfort.

  • 5. "Owh" - Sleepiness

    When we yawn we make an "O" shape with our mouths. Babies do this also, but when they're very sleepy, their yawns turn into a cry. You can hear the "Owh" sound in the way they cry with big, wide open mouths. When you hear this, it's time to put the baby down for a nap. Sometimes they just need to cry themselves out before they fall asleep, but a little rocking back and forth before naptime will help them settle down as well.

    These five cries are a great starting point for new mothers to understand and help babies when they are in need. Remember to pay attention to your baby and carefully listen to their cries, as Pricilla puts so beautifully on her website:

    To hear examples of babies making each of these five distinct cries, watch below for Oprah's interview with Pricilla Dunstan.

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Callie studies English and Communications and when she isn’t writing, she’s reading. Some of her favorite things include Harry Potter, all things Disney, road trips, and telling stories.

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