What Does All That Crying Mean?

As a noob parent, it is totally confusing trying to figure out what the heck your baby wants when she’s wailing like a little banshee and you’re a mombie. Noob Daddy very proudly (though not productively) solved this problem by giving Noob Baby her bottle every time she squeaked. Problem solved, and now we have the fattest baby west of the Mississippi.

I have to admit, Noob Daddy’s solution didn’t sit so well with me. Maybe it was the lack of scientific thought, or simply because I was tired of being the boob-pacifier-mommy-cure-all. So instead, I found Tracy Hogg’s
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer quite helpful in providing me some clues about baby crying cues. Here are Hogg’s observations from the chapter titled “S.L.O.W. Down.”
Tired or Overtired
Cranky, irregular-frequency fussing. Three short wails followed by a hard cry, then two short breaths and a longer, even louder cry. If left alone to cry, may eventually fall asleep. Blinking, yawning, back arching, leg kicking, squirming, grabbing at face.
Long, hard cry, similar to overtired. Turning head away. Flailing arms and legs.

Slight cough-like sound in the back of throat, then out comes first cry. Short to begin with, then more steady. Waa, waa, waa rhythm. Baby starts to root and tongue comes out. Turning of head from side to side. Pulling fist toward mouth.

Needs a Change of Scenery
Cranky fussing starting with noises of annoyance rather than outright cries. Turns away from object placed before her and plays with fingers.

Shrill, high-pitched scream that comes without warning. Whole body tenses and becomes rigid. Pulls knees upward to chest. Face is scrunched in pain.

Too Cold
Full-out crying with bottom lip quivering. Tiny goosebumps on skin. May shiver and have cold extremities.

Too Hot
Fussy whine that sounds more like panting. Low at first, about five minutes and then will eventually launch into a cry. Feels hot and sweaty, flushed. Panting instead of regular breathing. May see red blotches on face and torso.

Where’d you go?
Cooing sounds suddenly turn into little short waas, similar to a kitten. Crying stops when baby is picked up. Looks around trying to find you.

Fussing or crying after meal. Spits up frequently.

Bowel Movement
Grunts or cries while feeding. Squirms and bears down. May stop nursing.


  1. 3

    Have you heard of Dunstan Baby Language? Really helped me out!

  2. 4

    Thanks for this,
    i went straight out and bought the book….

  3. 5

    Wow thanks! These points amazingly helpful :-)
    Kirsty, Auckland NZ

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