Babies and crying

All babies cry. But how do you recognize your baby’s different crying sounds to identify what is wrong? In this article you can read what could be wrong when your baby cries.

Recognize your baby’s different crying sounds

Crying is the only way your baby can tell you that something is wrong. And the older your baby is, the easier it will be to recognize the different types of crying. At a particular time, you will know: now baby is crying because they are hungry. Or, they now feel alone. Or, it is what is called the ‘witching hour.’ But of course, you do not know all this in the first weeks. What could be wrong when your baby is crying?

  • Baby has a dirty diaper
  • A burp is stuck
  • Your baby feels alone or is bored: cuddling your child or carrying then in a sling for a while can help
  • Your baby is too hot or cold
  • Baby is hungry, and it is time for the next feed
  • Your baby is restless due to a busy day. Have you had many visitors and was your child passed from one pair of hands to the next?
  • Your baby has cramps
  • Your baby is taking a leap in their mental development
  • Some babies cry themselves to sleep. They usually quiet down after five minutes.


In the past, people thought it was good to just let babies have a good old cry. It was supposed to be good for the lungs. And, that you spoil a baby if you comfort them too quickly. We now know better. You cannot spoil a little baby by comforting them when they cry. In actual fact, when you respond to your child’s crying they learn they are heard and it increases the chance that they will cry less as time passes. They will trust you. So, comforting is good. But you do have to work out the best way to comfort your child. That which works well with one child, will not work with another.

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Talking to your child is always good. Singing, cuddling rocking, and humming may also help. Another option is dancing together, which will distract your baby. Some babies enjoy being rocked back and forth in a hammock (hung on the playpen). You can also carry your baby close to you in a baby sling to provide comfort. Your child will then hear the beating of your heart (a familiar sound, and will smell your scent). This often calms a baby and they will stop crying.

Witching hour

Between 3 and 12 weeks many babies and their parents are faced with a crying hour, also called the witching hour. This is more likely around 6 weeks. Usually, parents can predict whether their baby will have a witching hour, because in the time leading up to that ‘hour’ becoming a daily occurrence, 85% of the babies have already become fidgety and restless. That restlessness is thus a ‘warning’ signal that your little one gives you while things are still calm and quiet. In general, the crying stops after an hour or two. It can, however, last for four to six hours.

Fortunately, there is good news too, once the period of crying is over, babies usually sleep longer and better than they did before.

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