crying baby

Knowing how to calm a crying baby is an important skill for any parent. Different cries can mean different things, so knowing what these cries mean can help you take better care of your baby.

But how exactly do you go about soothing your baby? Is there a way to understand what their cries mean? Read on to find out more.

How To Calm a Crying Baby: What Do Their Cries Mean?

Why do babies cry? Typically, they cry when they're hungry, sleepy, tired, sick, or when they feel fussy. Babies also cry when their diaper is full, or if they feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, even minor things such as hearing an unfamiliar noise, a foul smell, or having the lights too bright can cause a baby to cry.

Because babies can't talk, they start crying to express what they want or feel. You could think of crying as a baby's primary form of communication. Though, it can be hard to decipher what exactly your baby needs when they're crying.

Babies generally cry the most during the first 3 months of their lives. As they grow older, they should start crying less, but this isn't always the case. Some babies tend to cry more than others, but this usually isn't a cause for concern1.

When babies cry a lot, or for baby crying non stop, parents can feel anxious or stressed out. This is especially true for babies that cry a lot at night, which causes their parents to not get enough rest. Some first-time parents can also feel that they want to "give up," or that they might not be cut out to be a parent because of how difficult it can be to soothe a crying baby2.

This is why it's important to know how to calm a crying baby, not just for your baby's sake, but also for your peace of mind.

How Do You Decipher Your Baby's Crying?

When their baby starts crying, mums and dads typically have a mental checklist of what the cause could be. They check to see if the baby is hungry, check their diaper, the baby's temperature etc. in order to find out why they're crying.

But wouldn't it be great if there was a way to decipher what a baby's cries mean? Thankfully, Priscilla Dunstan, created the Dunstan Baby Language or DBL.

This is a method of figuring out what a baby's cries mean, based on what their cry sounds like, so you can learn how to stop baby crying. According to Dunstan, there are five universal sounds that babies make to communicate their needs6.

Using the DBL involves listening for these cues right before your baby starts crying3.

These cues are:

  1. "Neh" - if the baby is hungry

  2. "Eh" - if the baby wants to be burped

  3. "Eairh" - when the baby feels gassy

  4. "Heh" - for general discomfort, such as needing a diaper change

  5. "Owh" - for sleepiness

One study done on the DBL showed that 90% of mothers found it to be a useful method. The results of the study showed that 70% of mothers who tried it felt more confident, and about 50% had a better night's sleep. They added that they would recommend DBL to other mothers since it proved useful when it comes to finding out what their baby wants4.

These results show a lot of potential for DBL when it comes to knowing what your baby needs.

How To Calm a Crying Baby: Here's What You Can Do

Sometimes, providing what your baby wants isn't enough to calm them down. There are times when you've already fed, burped, and changed your baby's diaper, but they still don't want to stop crying. In these situations, here are some other things you can do5:

  • Sing or talk to your baby.

  • Stroke your baby's head gently until they fall asleep or calm down.

  • Rocking your baby gently can help soothe them when they cry.

  • Some babies calm down when you take a walk with them in your arms.

  • Other babies calm down when put inside a stroller or a baby carriage.

  • Taking a bath can relax your baby, and make it easier for them to calm down and fall asleep.

There are also times when leaving your baby to "cry it out" is the best way of making them calm down. Some babies can really be inconsolable when they start crying, so the best thing to do is to just let them cry it out, while making sure to step in should they experience distress.

Remember, it’s natural for babies to cry. Learning how to calm a crying baby is part of getting to know your child, figuring out how they communicate, and discovering their personality.

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2 Crying in infancy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia,
Accessed August 17, 2021.
3 Baby Crying Sounds - What Do Different Cries Mean? | Petit Journey,
Accessed August 17, 2021.
4 UERM Health Sciences Journal,
Accessed August 17, 2021.
5 Responding To Your Baby's Cries -,
Accessed August 17, 2021.
6 One Woman Unlocks the Secret Language of Babies | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network,
Accessed October 21, 2021.