A mother soothing her crying baby.
The most common causes behind babies crying are hungry, tiredness and boredom.

Why Is My Baby Crying?

Why is my baby crying? As a first-time parent, you may be asking yourself this a lot. Everyone knows babies cry. It is their way of communicating that there is something they want or need. If a baby cries persistently, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

As a parent, one of the best things you can do is learning the subtle cues that tell you why your baby is crying. This will help you to respond to their needs more quickly and potentially save you a lot of stress!
In this article, we discuss the different reasons why babies cry. We will also talk about how to tell between different types of crying and when to see a doctor.

Reasons Behind Babies Crying

There are many different reasons why babies cry. They could be hungry or simply wanting a cuddle. In some cases, it could be the first sign that something is wrong.

Some of the most common reasons why babies cry includes:

  • Hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Wet or dirty diapers
  • Wanting a cuddle
  • Being too hot or cold
  • Boredom
  • Overstimulation
  • Teething
  • Colic
  • Illness
  • Pain

Of course, some of these reasons are easier to identify than others. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Detect Reasons for Tears

Some reasons for babies crying can be difficult to recognize. For example, tiredness, boredom and overstimulation are hard to identify. You may only learn to spot the signs once you really get to know your baby and their unique personality.

However, other reasons for crying are much easier to recognize as most babies will display similar characteristics. Here’s what to look out for.


Hunger is one of the most common reasons why babies cry. Signs to look out for include:

  • Fussing
  • Lip smacking
  • Putting their hand to their mouth
  • Rooting for the breast (they may turn toward you if you touch their cheek)

Crying during feeds could be a sign of gas and can be reduced by frequently burping your baby.

Wet or Dirty Diapers

This is one of these easiest to spot as you will likely know when your baby’s diaper needs changing. If your baby cries during changes, they may be suffering from diaper rash or simply be too cold.

Being Too Hot or Cold

Babies are sensitive to changes in temperature and being too hot or cold can make them cry. Check your baby’s temperature by placing a hand on their tummy or the back of their neck.


Most babies start teething at around six months but it can happen earlier or later in some cases. Signs of teething include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Dribbling

If your baby is dribbling a lot, be sure to wipe it away quickly to prevent them from developing a rash.

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Nobody is sure about what causes colic, although most people believe it is a kind of abdominal cramp. It is a common cause of persistent crying in babies aged from a few weeks to six months old.

Colic is defined as crying for more than three hours per day and more than three days per week. The crying is often high pitched and can sound very distressed. It is usually worse in the afternoon or evening.

Some other common signs of colic include:

  • Flushed face
  • Clenched fists
  • Arching the back
  • Pulling the knees up to the tummy
  • Excess gas

It is possible to buy over-the-counter remedies for colic. However, it is essential to consult a physician before using these for the first time.


If your baby is crying constantly and you cannot comfort them, it could be a sign of illness. In these cases, the crying will usually be accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever or a rash. However, there may be no other obvious signs.

If your baby is crying because they are unwell, it may sound weaker, higher pitched, or more urgent than usual. See a physician if you are in any doubt.


Another reason why babies cry persistently is pain. This could be due to an ear infection, mouth ulcer, or painful diaper rash. Sometimes a baby can get a hair wrapped around their finger or toe causing pain, so it is worthwhile checking for this.

Babies who are in pain will often seem miserable, even when they are not crying. This is in contrast to babies with colic who can be quite happy in between crying spells.

When to See a Doctor About Your Baby’s Crying

In most cases, the reason for your baby crying will not be anything serious. However, there are times when urgent medical attention is required.

Be sure to see a doctor about your baby’s crying if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Any abnormal behavior in babies under one month
  • Refusal to feed in babies under eight weeks
  • Fever in babies under eight weeks
  • Fever that acetaminophen or ibuprofen do not relieve
  • Fever with cold hands and feet
  • Fits or convulsions
  • Blue, grey, mottled, or very pale skin
  • A spotty red or purple rash
  • Swollen scrotum or groin
  • Swollen fontanel (soft spot)
  • Green vomit
  • Dry diapers (this is a sign of dehydration)
  • Rapid, raspy, or labored breathing
  • Excessive drowsiness or being difficult to wake up

These signs could indicate a serious illness such as sepsis, meningitis, or an infection. Be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible should any of them occur. You should also see a doctor if your baby is crying constantly and you feel unable to cope.