How can I understand my baby’s cries? New research may help

A baby’s cry is both heart-wrenching and guilt-inducingly annoying; we just want to make it stop.

Most of us use the ‘process of elimination’ method; cold, uncomfortable, tired, lonely, hungry, sore? Something like that. Usually, the more we get to know our small babies, the better we get at reading their cries. But if you are asking ‘how can I understand my baby’s cries?’, you might be interested in new research….

Research alleges that babies’ cries have a different sound, duration and pitch depending as dictated by the nature of the cry. But, according to a new study published in the Spanish Journal of Psychology, there is also another way to tell why babs is upset.

The study, led by Dr Mariano Chóliz and carried out by scientists from the University of Valencia, says that a baby’s eyes can help us understand the nature of a cry.

Dr Chóliz says that babies cry to convey emotion, and this emotion is stimulated by a need (hunger, discomfort, sleep – as mentioned above). The study found a correlation between a baby’s eye movement and three negative emotions; fear, anger and pain. The Telegraph reports the following:

  • When angry, most babies keep their eyes half-closed, either looking in apparently no direction or in a fixed and prominent manner. Their mouths are either open or half-open and the intensity of their cry increases progressively.
  • When fearful, the eyes remain open almost all the time. Furthermore, at times the infants have a penetrating look and move their head backwards. Their cry seems to be explosive after a gradual increase in tension.
  • When in pain, eyes will be constantly closed eyes and when the eyes do open it is only for a few moments and a distant look is held. In addition, there is a high level of tension in the eye area and the forehead remains frowned. The cry begins at maximum intensity, starting suddenly and immediately after the stimulus.

The study was conducted on older children – between the ages of 18-months and three years – but the implied assumption is that the findings will apply to babies too. I guess the best way to ascertain the truth of the findings is to take note of what your own baby does when he/she cries and compare it to Dr Chóliz deductions – not in the name of science but in the name of understanding and perhaps interest as well.

How long did it take you to work out your baby’s cries?

Source: Telegraph.co.uk – “Clue to why a baby is crying ‘is in their eyes’