Tips for Deciphering Your Baby’s Crying

These three cues can help you figure out why your baby might be crying so you can respond appropriately and help soothe your baby.

crying baby

When it comes to eating and crying, Tracy Hogg lists some good assessments for figuring out why baby is crying. It is found on page 109 in The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.


Sometimes your baby cries at certain times of day. If your baby is crying at these times, consider these reasons for the crying.

  • Before Feeds: Baby might be hungry
  • After Feeds: It might be gas or reflux
  • Same Time Each Day: Colic or witching hour (witching hour is my addition)
  • Erratic and Random: Might be personality

Read: How To Manage Baby’s Dreaded Witching Hour


Sometimes babies show physical reactions with their crying. If your baby has these physical reactions, they might be clues as to why your baby is crying.

Read: How To Help a Baby With Gas Pain


If you think your baby might be uncomfortable, these things might help soothe your upset baby. 

  • Burping: Gas
  • Bicycling Legs: Gas
  • Sitting Upright: Reflux
  • Motion or White Noise: Colic or witching hour (witching hour is my addition)

Read: Babywise and Reflux

Once you have a guess as to the reason for the crying, you can try to help ease the discomfort and reason for crying. If it is colic, there might be little you can do, but at least you would know it is nothing you are doing “wrong.”


In Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Hogg points out that a routine helps you to get to know your baby’s cries (page 269).

I remember when Brayden was a baby before I started Babywise. I had read that you would get to know your baby’s cries. Well, it wasn’t coming.

Once I started a routine, I really started to recognize cries and cues. You have fewer things to work with when you are on a routine. Is it close to naptime? Perhaps the cries are because baby is tired. Has baby been playing with a toy for the last 15 minutes? Perhaps cries are out of boredom or overstimulation.


These things can all contribute to your baby crying. Go through the list and try different things and see what helps.

Also, remember that as a baby is crying, time feels like it is going by longer than it is. I know that listening to your baby cry is disheartening. It seems like forever. But 15 minutes going by without baby crying seems much faster than it does with baby crying.


3 Tips for Deciphering Crying Pinnable Image

6 thoughts on “Tips for Deciphering Your Baby’s Crying”

  1. Good post! I noticed that when my DD was a newborn, she had a "cough-like" cry when she woke hungry. If not answered within minutes, it rose to a wail!! Now that she is 7 months, she has a "scared" cry, "whining" cry, and then just irritable fussy cry. She hasn't been sick yet, and hasn't teethed yet, so I am sure I have more to learn!

  2. My little guy is about 3.5 months old. He had been sleeping well through the night with no sleep training (although i did loosely follow the BW guidelines), then it suddenly stopped! A few days ago my husband and I decided to try to CIO method. It's worked really well! Now he can easily soothe himself within 10-15 minutes! I really believe in CIO, but I do have one concern: my baby is hoarse :o( Has this happened to you or anyone else? I'm inclined to stop CIO because he sounds so pathetic! Any advice is appreciated!

  3. Hey. Not sure where to leave this comment. I have a question for you. My gal used to wake up 8am happy and content. Around month 5, that's not the case anymore. I've gotten her back to 8am. Just fine! She has slept through the night since @ 2 1/2 months. She's happy most of the time. At @ 5 months, waking up is SCREAMING on the top of her lungs. In the morning, every nap (we went down to 2 two months ago to see if that was why. She takes 2 naps a day at 1 1/2 hours each (if I'm lucky) and sleeps @ 11.5 hours at night. Down around 8:30 or 9 and up at 8. That's that. Yes, she's teething, sometimes hungry but MAN! It is SCREAMING!!!!! I have reached the point of almost ignoring it, going in when it's time. Smiling, let's change your diaper, etc. It's just crazy. Thought I'd ask for any advice. Normal babywise stuff just isn't the cause. I have no idea. She's been in a low percentile for weight, I've upped the food intake for that reason. She eats 5 times a day. I'm just sick of the psycho screaming as if she's being beaten! Thanks so much. I love your blog.

  4. It could be due to pain. Most of the time for a baby that age, crying when waking is because the baby is tired. If that is the case, then tweaking waketime length should help. She might need an earlier bedtime and shorter waketimes between naps.


Leave a Comment