We’ve all been there: Spit-up stained clothes, bleary-eyed from exhaustion, can’t remember the last time you took a shower and the baby is crying again?! A baby’s cry can be one of the most startling and stress-inducing sounds, especially in the middle of the night! And figuring out what each of those cries means can be challenging for any mom or dad. Whether this is your first or fourth child, all babies are different, but the reasons they cry may be similar.
While hunger is one of the reasons babies cry, it’s actually not the first sign they may need to eat. In fact, crying is typically considered a late hunger cue, meaning that the earlier hunger signs may have been missed, and now your baby needs to eat pronto!
So what do you do if your baby is crying? Before resorting to feeding, first try soothing in other ways. Check to see if your little one needs something else.
- Does your baby just want to be held and comforted?
- Does your newborn need a diaper change?
- Is your baby too hot or too cold?
- Could your baby just be overtired?
- Is your baby bored and in need of some attention?
Feeding your baby when he’s not hungry may end up causing more distress, such as gas pains, stomach discomfort and reflux—all of which impact how well a baby might sleep. (And we know how important it is to get your baby to sleep!). Feeding your baby when he’s not hungry can also teach him from a very early age to ignore his body. All babies are born knowing how much they need to eat, and it’s up to us (as parents) to teach our children to listen to and trust their internal hunger and fullness cues.
If you are ever concerned about how frequently or how long your baby is crying, talk with your pediatrician to better assess if there are other reasons.
While crying can be stressful and make for very long days, the crying may lessen as your baby grows and matures. And the longer you’re together, the easier it becomes to understand what those little fusses and cries really mean and learn the best way to soothe her. As with all of parenting, it just takes a little patience, time and love to get through this stage.