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Your baby is born with the ability to cry, overtime they will learn to self-regulate their emotions but until then this is the way they communicate. You will soon learn the difference between cries as being hunger, fatigue or discomfort. Crying can be considered one of the most important emotions an infant has.

What are some things your baby is trying to tell you when she cries:

I’m Hungry

This is the most common reason a baby will cry. In fact the younger the baby is, the more likely they are hungry when they cry.

I’m Tired

If your baby is over tired it is very difficult for them to snuggle in and fall asleep. Some infants can become over stimulated by lots of visitors and being passed around from person to person. If your baby is whining and crying for no apparent reason and is staring blankly into space they may be ready to go down for a nap. Try taking your baby to a quiet place to help her calm down.

I’m Soiled

Some babies do not like the feel of a soiled or wet diaper, this is always a first step to look at when your baby is crying.

I’m Cold or Hot

You can feel your baby's tummy to see if she is too or hot or too cold. Sometimes a simple blanket on or off your infant is the solution.

I Don’t Feel Well

You are the best judge of your baby's cries. If your baby has a different tone to her cry it may be telling you something is wrong. Check her temperature for a fever. Observe your baby for difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation along with the fever. Any concerns you have can be relayed to your doctor. Remember, no one knows your baby like you do.

How can you soothe your crying baby when you don’t know why she is crying:


Carry your baby in your arms or in a carrier. Use a rocking chair, swing or bouncy seat can be effective along with a ride in the stroller or car.

Warm Water

Giving an infant a warm bath can soothe them. However, some babies do not like water.

Fresh Air

Stepping outside with your baby can sometimes help them stop crying instantly. If it works, take time to talk with your baby and soak up the fresh air.


Rubbing a baby's back with a gentle touch just may do the trick to calm them down.


The rhythm and movement of music or singing to your child may be just what they need. Try different kinds of music and see what happens.


Infants like to feel secure. Try wrapping the baby in a blanket or holding them close to you to re-create the feeling of the security in the womb.


An infant can actually steady their heart rate, relax their stomachs and calm themselves when they are given a pacifier or a finger to suck on.

If a baby cries for long periods every day, he may have colic. Babies with "colic" will cry for several hours a day. Some babies are unable to tolerate breast milk or the formula that they are drinking. Talk to your doctor for any suggestions. It may take time to come up with a solution that best fits your baby.

A crying baby who can't easily be soothed puts a lot of stress on parents. As the baby gets older, he will be able to soothe himself and some of the crying will stop. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well during these times. Sometimes you too need a break. Don't be afraid to call a friend to take over for a while. Take deep breaths and put on quiet music to distract yourself. If you have to, put your baby down in a safe place and let him cry for a while until you regain your patience.

Lisa Poppe

The UNL Learning Child Team

Lisa Poppe is an Extension Educator for "The Learning Child" team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Poppe has a Bachelor's Degree from UNL in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree from UNL in Family & Consumer Science. She focuses on child development and the family through her work for "The Learning Child" team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Learn more about Lisa and the rest of The Learning Child Team at child.u ...

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