How to interpret the cry of the newborn?

Parents must learn to recognize their child’s non-verbal language and how to respond in the best way.

When you are helpless the ability to communicate with those around you becomes difficult.

Infants in particular are defenseless little beings: they cannot eat by themselves or take care of themselves independently, they cannot move and they cannot communicate in an understandable way with each other.

For this reason they cry.

And it is our job to interpret the meaning of that crying: hunger, pain, tiredness, discomfort…

How do we figure out what they really need?

The practice is probably easier than the theory. These are things that worry much more when you’re pregnant, especially the first, because then living with the baby 24 hours a day you learn to know him and interpret the meaning of that cry. Experience and that unique and special bond that we are able to establish with them come in handy.

If he cries because he’s dirty or wet, just change the diaper and the crying stops.

If he cries because he’s hungry, if he takes to the breast and sucks calmly, the crying ends.

It is more complicated to understand if the child cries for pain and above all for what kind of pain. This can lead to a sense of helplessness and frustration especially when crying becomes inconsolable despite all the precautions we take.

Parents must learn to recognize their child’s non-verbal language and how to respond in the best way.

All a newborn can do is associate a feeling with a sound. A feeling of well-being causes a little giggle even in sleep.

Hunger or pain (perhaps due to colic ) triggers a cry or a lament depending on the intensity of the sensation.

There are a lot of texts that try to explain how to recognize the plan of children because it is an innate and urgent need of parents to be able to calm them down.

All of us moms and dads have experienced a strong feeling of frustration and helplessness when our baby cried uncontrollably. Everyone would like the application that translates crying into a phrase like “I’m hungry” or “I have a stomach ache”, or even “I have a sore throat”…

Unfortunately it doesn’t exist. In these things we have to make do with our abilities and with some help.

How to juggle the various meanings of the baby’s cry?

First of all, don’t mind who tells you that the baby is manipulating you with his crying. Infants are absolutely unable to do this.

There are some interesting studies that have tried to interpret infant crying.

A group of Spanish researchers was able to distinguish between the characteristics of an angry cry from those of fear or pain . A cry caused by pain is usually accompanied by closed eyes and an escalation of intensity up to a level maximum.

A cry caused by fear or anger is usually accompanied by more or less open eyes.

Angry crying gradually reaches its peak intensity, while crying caused by fear quickly reaches its peak like crying from pain, with the difference that in case of fear, newborns keep their eyes open instead of closed.

Particularly in the case of crying out of anger, the eyes are partially open, while in crying due to fear they are completely open.

This study is confirmed by another publication from 2004 which had gone to see the association between the quality of crying and pain levels. Siren-like crying was associated with the highest levels of pain.

Of course, none of these interpretations are foolproof.

Part of the natural process of creating a relationship with a new human being is also to understand all those nuances that characterize a mutual communication.

A newborn’s way of communicating isn’t just crying.

Adults and infants learn to communicate with each other without words but through the imitation of sounds, even musical ones. A kind of attunement takes place through the exchange of sounds, voice changes, and facial expressions.

All this to make you understand that neither science nor the various manuals can teach you more than what you will learn from your child’s direct experience, from being close to him and from trying to establish your own way of communicating with him at least until he learns to speak for express his needs. Then everything will change again pre-adolescence and adolescence, but this is another complicated matter.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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