How To Decode Your Baby’s Crying And 7 Ways To Make It Stop

One theory says that babies’ cries will sound different depending on what they need.

Originally Published: 
A baby crying in their crib.
flickr / Sam Stanton

A crying kid is the psychic equivalent of a knife to the solar plexus. And that’s not an understatement. In fact, “sound stress” used to prepare American soldiers for the possibility of brutal enemy detainment routinely includes the sound of babies crying. But you do have the power within you to stop a baby from crying. You just need the right tools.

Of course, the first step to solving any problem is to find out what the hell is causing it. Luckily, you can troubleshoot your baby pretty quickly. Most issues are related to some kind of physical discomfort. These can range from hunger to gas to tiredness.

Now, you could just go down the list and try to solve the problem by offering food, then changing a diaper, then trying to burp your kid and on and on… Or you could make like a wizard and translate their cries.

Why Your Baby Is Crying

One-time mezzo-soprano Priscilla Dunstan claims to have unlocked the secret instinctual language of baby cries. Her Dunstan Method was impressive enough to be featured by Oprah, so maybe it will work for you. Because you get a crying baby, and you get a crying baby, and you get a crying baby. Everybody gets a crying baby!

The (totally not scientifically proven but anecdotally lauded) idea behind the Dunstan Method is that babies will modulate the sound of their cries based on what they need. It breaks down like this:

  • Neh: “Yo, I’m hungry! So I’m making this noise by moving my mouth the way I do when I suck on a boob.”
  • Owh: “Hey guys? I’m tired. That’s why I’m making this noise with my mouth that’s like weird yawn. So can you turn down the Netflix and let me sleep, already?”
  • Heh: “Oh, bro. I’m really physically uncomfortable right now. Heh. I think I may have shit myself.”
  • Eairh: “Wow, this gas is really painful and I may actually be trying to poop right now. That’s why I have my knees lifted up like this. Can you give me an assist?”
  • Eh: “Dude, I cannot get this burp out. That is a crazy bummer. Could you gently whack me on the back?”

How To Stop A Baby From Crying

Now you (maybe) know what’s making your child cry. But what’s next? Try these nine tips.

  • Hold the baby so that they’re positioned on their stomach or side, rather than their back.
  • Make like a white noise machine and make some shushing noises.
  • Jiggle and sway the kid. Doing the stanky could work here.
  • Turn your kid into a burrito with some epic swaddling skills.
  • Go for a ride in the country where the kid will get both white noise and movement.
  • Offer a pacifier.
  • Give them a bath.

If all this fails, the best thing to do might be to put your kid securely in their crib and walk away until you cool off.

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