Identifying baby cries

Identifying baby cries
Identifying baby cries

The only way your newborn baby can communicate with you is to cry, which means you’re not just mum, you’re also translator! It’ll take you a while to learn the different reasons your baby cries, but once you do, it’ll make caring for your baby much easier.

Identifying baby cries


It can be difficult to know what your baby is trying to tell you, but as you get to know them, you’ll learn what different cries mean. You’ll soon be able to narrow down the possible causes so you can have fewer tears and more smiles. Start by ruling things out. The most common causes of crying are:

  • Hunger: offer a breast-feed
  • A wet or dirty nappy: change your baby
  • The need for reassurance: give your baby a cuddle, rock them or talk to them
  • Temperature: check your baby’s not too hot or cold. A comfortable room temperature is around 16-20oC, and a good body temperature is around 37°C


If you’ve made sure your baby has been breast-fed, changed, cuddled and made comfortable and they’re still crying, it could be because of colic or nappy rash.



Colic is common in babies, yet the cause is unknown. If your baby is suffering from colic, they’ll get uncomfortable, gripey stomach cramps and their cries will probably be more high-pitched than usual. You can read more about colic and ways to soothe it here.


Nappy rash is a dry, sore skin condition which can be caused by the ammonia from a dirty nappy, some baby wipes, or strong detergent (if it’s been used to wash terry-cloth nappies). It’s uncomfortable for your baby and can understandably make them cry. Find out how to get rid of nappy rash and your baby will be much more comfortable.


If you’ve eliminated all of the above as reasons why your baby might be crying and you’re still worried, speak to your doctor.