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Understanding Why Your Baby is Crying

Crying is your baby's way of communicating what he or she wants or needs, so don't ignore your baby's cries. Instead, learn to decipher why your baby is crying and make them feel comfortable. Below is a list of common reasons why babies cry to help you understand what your baby is feeling:

Hunger
Hunger is one of the most common reasons for a baby's crying. You can learn to recognize when your baby is hungry before he or she begins to cry by looking for the following signs: the smacking of the lips, fussiness, the turning of the head toward your hand when you stroke the baby's cheek, and when babies bring their hand to their mouth.

Soiled Diaper
Some babies don't mind staying in a dirty diaper for a while, but others will begin to cry as soon as they've soiled themselves, demanding to be washed and changed.

Sleepiness
Contrary to common belief, it's actually difficult for babies to settle down and sleep if they don't have the right atmosphere to soothe them. Overly tired babies in particular might find it difficult to fall asleep, fussing and crying long before they can get some shuteye.

Wanting to be Held
Sometimes babies will cry because they want to be held and cuddled. You don't have to worry about spoiling your baby by carrying it too much during its first few months, but once they have grown a bit older you'll have to watch how often you give into their demands.

Tummy Ache
Colicky babies or those suffering from gas might fuss and cry if they're experiencing discomfort or pain. Ask your doctor whether they can prescribe over-the-counter anti-gas drops for your baby. If you suspect that your baby is suffering from gas, place them on their back, hold their feet, and move their legs gently in a bicycling motion to help them pass the gas.

Needs to be Burped
Babies inadvertently swallow air when breastfeeding or drinking out of a bottle, so a good burp after feeding helps relieve the discomfort of accumulated air in their tiny stomachs. Some babies however don't seem to mind going without being burped after meals.

Too Hot or Cold
Your baby will protest against cold objects or substances touching their warm skin, such as wet wipes or chilly air when being changed or washed. Babies will also fuss and cry if they feel too warm. Once the source of discomfort is removed, your baby should settle down.

Teething
Teething is a painful process wherein each tooth breaks through the surface of the gum, leaving it sore and tender. While some babies find teething more painful than others, in general most infants will be fussy and tearful at some point or another during the process.

Feeling Overwhelmed
Being exposed to too many faces, sounds and experiences all at once can confuse and irritate a baby, leaving it feeling overwhelmed and put out. In this situation your baby will cry to let you know that he or she has had enough. Take your baby to a quiet area and let them cry it out until they settle down.

Illness
If your babies continue to cry even after you have fed, changed and tried to comfort them, check whether they are developing a fever. You can usually tell if your baby is coming down with something from the sound of their crying; sick babies have a distinctive cry that's different than the one they make when they are hungry or frustrated. Call your doctor or schedule an appointment to have your little one checked if you think your baby might be getting sick. 

For information on how to deal with your baby's crying, read "How to Comfort Your Crying Baby".