Crying serves several useful purposes for your baby. It gives her a way to call for help when she’s hungry or uncomfortable. It helps her shut out sights, sounds, and other sensations that are too intense to suit her. And it helps her release tension.
You may notice that your baby has fussy periods throughout the day, even though she’s not hungry, uncomfortable, or tired. Nothing you do at these times will console her, but right after these spells, she may seem more alert than before, and shortly thereafter she may sleep more deeply than usual. This kind of fussy crying seems to help babies get rid of excess energy so they can return to a more contented state.
Pay close attention to your baby’s different cries. You’ll soon be able to tell when she needs to be picked up, consoled, or tended to, and when she is better off left alone. You may even be able to identify her specific needs by the way she cries. For instance, a hungry cry is usually short and low-pitched, and it rises and falls. An angry cry tends to be more turbulent. A cry of pain or distress generally comes on suddenly and loudly with a long, high-pitched shriek followed by a long pause and then a flat wail. The “leave-me-alone” cry is usually similar to a hunger cry. It won’t take long before you have a pretty good idea of what your baby’s cries are trying to tell you.