Identifying baby cries

Understanding your baby’s cries

It can be difficult to know what your baby is trying to tell you, but as you get to know them, you’ll learn what different cries mean. You’ll soon be able to narrow down the possible causes so you can have fewer tears and more smiles.

Start by ruling things out. The most common causes of crying are:

  • Hunger: offer a feed
  • A wet or dirty nappy: change your baby's nappy
  • The need for reassurance: give your baby a cuddle, rock them, talk to them or give them something to suck
  • Temperature: check your baby’s not too hot or cold. A comfortable room temperature is around 16-20oC, and a good body temperature is around 37oC.

Other reasons for upset

If you’ve made sure your baby has been fed, changed, cuddled and made comfortable and they’re still crying, it could be because of colic or nappy rash.


Colic is common in babies, yet the cause is unknown. If your baby is suffering from colic, they’ll get uncomfortable, gripey stomach cramps and their cries will probably be more high-pitched than usual. You can read more about colic and ways to soothe it here.

Nappy rash

Nappy rash is a dry, sore skin condition which can be caused by the ammonia from a dirty nappy, the alcohol in some baby wipes, or strong detergent (if it’s been used to wash terry-cloth nappies). It’s uncomfortable for your baby and can understandably make them cry. Find out how to get rid of nappy rash and your baby will be much more comfortable.

If you’ve eliminated all of the above as reasons why your baby might be crying and you’re still worried, speak to your midwife or call us and we’ll try and help.

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