Crying Baby Sounds and What They Mean

Updated December 12, 2018
crying baby

When your baby cries, he or she is actually trying to communicate with you. You will hear a wide range of whimpering, whining, crying and screaming when the baby wants your attention. It may take a little time, but eventually, you will be able to distinguish between the different crying sounds that will help you determine what your baby needs.

Different Types of Crying Sounds

Babies are born with very different temperaments. Some are relaxed and easygoing while others seem to be more intense and dramatic. Some may cry occasionally and some cry about every little thing. When your baby does cry, there are different reasons for the crying and different types of crying sounds that your baby will exhibit. The crying will typically happen when the baby is tired, hungry, colicky, overtired, fussy, sick or in pain. In addition to listening to the different cries you should also observe the baby's facial expressions and body movements which can help you determine why your baby is crying. The easiest cries to distinguish are when the baby is sick or in pain. When your baby is sick, the cry is a low energy, weak whimper, and the baby will look (and be) generally miserable. This is the time to watch for other symptoms of potential illness as well. When a baby is in pain, the cry is sudden, shrill and loud. His face will become red, his eyes will squeeze shut and he may also stiffen his arms and legs. First, you must try to determine what is causing the pain, do what you can to stop it and comfort your little one the best that you can.

Sleepy Baby Cry

When a baby is tired after a busy day, he should easily fall asleep. But when a baby is overtired, he may have a difficult time winding down and may need more time to calm down. Some signs of sleepiness include glazed-over eyes, rubbing of eyes and big yawns. A baby's sleepy cry sounds breathy and intermittent. The cry has a 'wah wah' effect and can build in intensity from a whimper to a full-fledged, quivering wail.

A video of a sleepy baby crying:

Hungry Baby Cry

When a baby is hungry, the cry is low-pitched, unrelenting, rhythmic and may come in short bursts. The cry can eventually become high-pitched as well. Other signs that your baby may be hungry is when he smacks his lips, sticks out his tongue, roots for the breast and may even suck on his fingers. This cry itself has an 'eehh eehh' sound followed by a quick successive cough-like sound.

A video of a hungry baby crying:

Newborn Baby Cry

Newborn babies cry and fuss approximately three hours a day. Your baby will eventually figure out that when he cries, someone will come and take care of his needs whether it's a feeding, a diaper change or a simple cuddle. A newborn's cry can sound like a short series of 'neh nehs' that may have a slightly raspy quality accompanied by quick, short gasps and/or squeaks.

A video of a newborn baby crying:

Baby Crying for a Long Time

Some babies cry a lot over a long period of time. If they have episodes of intense, inconsolable crying and nothing seems to comfort them, they may have colic. The definition of colic is crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week for three weeks or longer. The crying may begin suddenly and for no reason. This type of cry has variations in the sounds, there are short 'eh, eh, eh' sounds followed by longer 'wahhh, wahhh, wahhhs'. This cry can be characterized as intense wails or screams accompanied by fidgeting movements.

A video of a baby with colic:

Funny Baby Crying Sound

On occasion, a baby will have a unique, interesting or downright funny cry. The baby in the following video has more of trilling sound when she cries and her cry sounds like a cross between 'giving continuous raspberries' and a little motor.

A video of a baby with a funny cry:

Fun Uses for Baby Crying Sounds

You can actually download a free baby crying sound to use as a ringtone for your phone. One option is or you can download the Zedge Ringtones app. You will be able to browse and choose from a wide variety of baby cries that range from a typical crying baby to enhanced remixes of a crying baby. You just register on their website, choose a ringtone and download it to your phone.

If you need a crying baby sound effect, for example, to dub into a video or to help desensitize a dog to a 'new arrival', there are many websites, apps or YouTube audio videos to choose from. Yet, another option is to buy the crying baby sounds on iTunes or Amazon music.

When In Doubt Contact Your Doctor

If your baby is incessantly crying, is inconsolable and you simply can't determine the reason why your baby is crying, you may want to contact your doctor. Be sure to describe how your baby is crying, when she is crying, and whether or not you can comfort her. The doctor may want you to bring her in for an examination.

Keep in mind this is your first means communicating with your baby. It may feel like a lot to figure out, but as your baby becomes a more effective communicator, you'll become more proficient at understanding him.

Crying Baby Sounds and What They Mean