8 newborn cries and what they mean. (For my bubba anyway.)

8 newborn cries and what they mean. (For my bubba anyway.)

Muddling along and figuring it out on the way seems to be the go with this kid, and once I sussed out what his cries meant, my life got much easier. No less loud, but that’s life with a newborn. Luckily, he doesn’t actually cry that much – and less now I know what he’s crying about. So here’s my handy guide to common cries (which may or may not apply to any other baby in the world, but I figure it’s worth sharing anyhow).

1. The Mid-Sleep Squawk. Usually a short, sharp ‘wah!’ that happens during a nap. More cute than anything. Not a sign to pick him up (trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way).

2. The Sudden Sleep Screech. It’s either wind – in which case, get that kid up up and over your shoulder until he does a big old man burp – or a wet nappy. Burp fast, change fast and with any luck they’ll go straight back to sleep.

3. The I’m Awake Where The Hell Am I Yowl. If Charlie wakes crying, it’s usually because he has no idea where he is and is majorly pissed about it. Most commonly he’ll be in the pram in the front room where we put him after we got home, unwilling to break our golden rule of not moving a sleeping baby in a pram.

4. The Slitted Eye Scream. Red face, eyes squeezed to slits and a big open mouth always, but always, means Charlie is overtired or overstimulated and needs sleep ASAP. I head this one off at the pass by either a) wrapping him and rocking him with dummy or bouncing him in bouncer. Sometimes it works. Other times, we both end up bawling. Good times.

5. The Protest Grizzle. Commonly occurs when he’s drowsy and I’m putting him down. If I suspect it will escalate into the Slitted Eye Scream, I stroke gently between the eyebrows and say, “Shhhh, it’s sleepy time now” and often the grizzle will dissipate on its own as he slips into sleep.

6. The Escalating Argh Cry. Starts off small, builds to a crescendo depending on when you address it. And it means hunger. Always hunger.

7. The Hold My Breath Then Let Rip Scream. Can sneak up on you and is generally due to some parental inaction on your part – ie, you’ve missed so many hungry / bored / wet nappy / tired cues and he cracks it or it could be an epic protest about something he can’t control (like being in the car seat or pram). Can be hard to come back from once he’s spiralled out of control.

8. The PURPLE scream. Buggered if I know what this early-evening, ear-splitting meltdown means. Just ride it out and have wine ready.

Did sussing out your newborn’s cries made life easier? Do any (or all) of these apply to your bubba? Any major ones I’ve missed?

Journalist. New mama. Mr Chick's missus. Blogger at The Mama Files, Reality Chick, Letter To My Ex and Rachel's List. Author of sex advice book, Get Lucky. Writer for Good Health, CLEO, Woman's Day, Inside Out, NineMSN and many more. Current fantasy: adding a rooftop hot-tub to the house.


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