Different Baby Cries and What They Mean

Incredibly, surveys indicate that all babies, regardless of race or location, during their first few months, used the same types of cries to indicate the same things.

The key to determining which cry is which is to listen for the initial sound, not the way it ends. If the cry were a word, there will be more subtlety to the first letters than the last. You can diagnose what’s wrong by seeing how the initial sound is made (you’ll understand when you see the cries).

Keep in mind that if your baby is really upset, you won’t be able to determine any information. Hysterical crying is raw, unchecked emotion. Ideally you want to avoid getting to that point whenever you can. Your baby will attempt to communicate his needs before he starts wailing, so take advantage of it. Remember: babies don’t cry to make you upset or for the heck of it. They cry because they have a need they want you to meet.

There will always be some variation. You have to watch your child closely to determine how he’s trying to communicate. Eventually you’ll be able to quickly meet a need before there’s a fuss. Until then, understand these five types of cries.

The “neh.”

When a baby becomes hungry, the sucking reflex begins to kick in. Your baby will begin to attempt to make noises to get your attention, but his tongue will be pushed to the roof of his mouth. What comes out is “neh,” which means “I’m hungry.”

The “heh.”

Similar to the “neh” (so be careful you don’t confuse the two), “heh” is an open-mouth cry pushed out with a short breath. It usually means your baby is uncomfortable. He’s itchy, wet, cold, or wants to be in a different position.

The “eair.”

“Eair” is a sound that comes from the lower abdomen. It’s a difficult sound to distinguish from the rest, but you will often see it accompanied by your child pulling his knees up or pushing out with his legs. His body will be uncomfortable because he’s experiencing lower gas and looking for a way to maneuver it out.

The “ehh.”

When your baby is feeling gas in the upper part of his digestive tract, he’ll push his breath out like he’s trying to burp. The accompanied sound is sharp “ehhh!” as though he’s lifting a weight. “Ehh” sounds like some of the other cries, but you have to listen for the beginning sounds.

The “owh.”

The “owh” sound is made when your baby makes noise during a long, slow exhale. It’s a longer cry you’ll notice around yawns that means “I’m sleepy,” but you should understand it as “Get me to my sleeping place and do the things you do before I fall asleep!”


Written by Stephanie Parker from Sleepingbaby.com, inventors of the Zipadee-Zip

The motto for Sleeping Baby, makers of the Zipadee-Zip, is: "Inspiring Dreams One Night at A time," and that, in a nutshell, is how it all started…with one little dream that has since become the Parker family's reality. When Brett and Stephanie Parker's daughter, Charlotte, was born, the feeling that welled up inside of them was indescribable; they never realized until first looking into those baby blues of hers that they were even capable of that kind of love.

When it was time to transition baby from swaddling, the Parkers tried every sleep sack on the market and every swaddle weaning trick they could find for nearly two weeks and nothing worked to get baby Charlotte to fall and stay asleep.

Stephanie became determined to restore sleep and sanity to their household and set out to find a solution that would soothe Charlotte's startle reflex and provide her the cozy womb-like environment she loved so much but still give her the freedom to roll over and wiggle around in her crib safely. Out of sheer desperation and exhaustion, the Zipadee-Zip was born. The first Zipadee-Zip(R) Stephanie put together on her little sewing machine worked like magic!

To date tens of thousands of Zipadee-Zips have been sold and all from word-of-mouth marketing. It is so rewarding for the Parkers to see other parents and babies getting the sleep they both need and deserve!

For more information, visit sleepingbaby.com.

Interested in writing a guest blog for Sleeping Baby? Send your topic idea to pr@sleepingbaby.com.

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