What Are the 3 Types of Baby Cries?

Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022
Baby is crying
Babies cry to tell you their needs. They usually cry for 2-3 hours a day. After some investigation and common sense, you may be able to figure out how to handle your crying baby.

Babies cry to tell you their needs. They usually cry for 2-3 hours a day. Sometimes, a bawling baby can be distressing to anxious parents. Babies may wail for no obvious reason. However, sometimes, the baby cries when they are trying to convey their problem to you. The three types of baby cries are:

  1. Hunger cry: Newborns during their first 3 months of life need to be fed every couple of hours. When they get hungry, the baby makes short, low-pitched cries.
  2. Colic: During the first month after birth, about 1 in 5 newborns may cry because of colic pain. This condition is marked by more than 3 hours of crying, three times a week. This cry is like sudden jags, and they are loud and high-pitched. The baby’s face may become red, the belly may bulge, and the legs may be bunched up. This could be due to gaseous distension or heartburn, which is common in bottle-fed babies due to swallowed air. However, assure the cause of this discomfort/pain.
  3. Sleep cry: If your baby is 6 months old, your child should be able to fall asleep on their own. However, they may need their parent in bed. Even after they get into a sleep schedule, they may face trouble falling asleep when they are sick or if there are any changes in their routine.

What is a normal baby cry?

A study says most newborns tend to cry for around 2 hours a day. If a child is crying for more than 2 hours, then it is unusual. If a baby is crying for more than 3.5 hours daily it is not considered normal.

What to expect?

Here are some things you should expect about your baby’s cry:

  • The crying of a baby may spur the parent into action, even in the nighttime. For a breastfeeding mother, it may trigger the let-down reflex.
  • A newborn’s crying peaks at its intensity generally at about 6-8 weeks and then it slows down. This can be quite a hard period for the parents.
  • Most newborns cry and fuss for almost 3 hours a day. However, some babies may cry a little longer. Mostly, babies may cry or fuss in the late afternoon and evening. However, there is no such pattern.
  • When the baby gets older, they spend less time crying. Crying is also more likely to be spread throughout the day.
  • Some days after the birth of a newborn, it becomes easier for the parent to understand what the baby needs when they cry.
  • A baby may cry because they are flatulent or feeling cold.
  • Some babies get fussy if they are handled frequently by too many people (for example, at a social gathering).


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How to handle a crying baby?

The baby’s cry can be frustrating, upsetting, and overwhelming. After some investigation and common sense, you may be able to figure out how to handle your crying baby. No one knows the baby better than the parents. It may take some time to calm down the baby. Place your baby in a safe place or hold your baby for a while. The following tips might help:

  • If your baby is hungry, then breastfeed or bottle feed them and see whether it helps. Sometimes, infants just need to suck on something to comfort themselves even though they are not hungry. A pacifier or something for your baby to suck on their own may help to calm them.
  • If the baby is too tired, they may turn fussy instead of drifting off to sleep. Encourage the baby to slumber by swaddling your baby. Wrap your baby in a blanket gently. This mimics the mother’s womb. A change of scenery may also help sometimes. Place the baby in a stroller and go for a walk or a lulling vibrating seat may also soothe the baby’s fatigue. Movement can sometimes be soothing for a crying baby.
  • Sometimes, the baby may get allergies that are passed down from their mother through breast milk. It may upset a baby’s tummy. If it happens constantly, your infant may be allergic or sensitive to certain food products, such as dairy, nuts, or food containing gluten (such as wheat). If your pediatrician suspects any food allergy, a breastfeeding mother should stop eating food products containing the allergen for a week or switch the infant formula if you are using infant formula.
  • If your baby vomits out milk, take a break during meals and help your baby to burp often. Feed the baby while they are sitting. You can try special bottles to prevent swallowing too much air. Talk to your pediatrician if this doesn’t work. Most of the time, this mild reflux gets better eventually. It could get better after using thickened formula (for formula-fed babies) or by avoiding cigarette smoke at home.
  • If your baby is crying to sleep, let them cry for some time. A study states that slowly letting the child cry out for longer stretches before you check on them helps them learn to go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Reduce the stimulation around the baby while sleeping. Sit with your baby in a quiet dimmed room. Swaddle and wrap the baby to help them to feel secure. Hum some gentle lullaby to calm the baby.
  • If the baby is crying due to some colic, then:
    • Rock or walk your baby.
    • Offer extracts of the fennel, chamomile, or other herbal remedies after consulting your pediatrician.
  • Consult a pediatrician when the crying doesn’t stop on its own by 3-4 months.
  • Always trust your instinct and talk to your pediatrician when you feel something is off.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022
HelpGuide.org. "When Your Baby Won't Stop Crying." <https://www.helpguide.org/articles/parenting-family/when-your-baby-wont-stop-crying.htm>.