There are a lot of things you might hear that will make you feel like a bad mother. Your coworker will tell you that she hand sewed all of her son’s outfits until he turned five. Your sister in law will explain the importance of cloth diapers, and how going to the laundromat six times every day was well worth the organic experience. Your yoga instructor will tell you that you’re giving your baby a new cavity every time you open a jar of store-bought baby food. There are certainly benefits to being the picture perfect mom, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re behind the curve if you can’t live up to the expectations of your peers. One thing you might hear is other moms talking about how they can actually discern their baby’s cries. For example, they know exactly when their baby is hungry based on the wail he lets out. On the other hand, they know when it’s naptime because a wail of a different pitch is expressed. Some moms really can tell the difference, but this ability is not a requirement for being a new mom. Though, in time, you might learn how.

Your baby probably will have different sounds for different needs, but there is no single instructions manual about which is which. Though, there are some sounds you might be able to pick up on right off the bat. For example, studies show that babies often emulate the process of eating when they are hungry, so their mouth will naturally mold into a suckling position while they cry. The consonant “n” is likely to come out during hunger cries. Similarly, a low pitched “eh” cry is probably related to digestion because your baby is trying to push through gas or bowel movements. This cry might be accompanied by grunts or a look of strain. Finally, a more open-mouthed cry is probably a sleepy one because your infant is simultaneously yawning.

Though these sounds might all be very different for your own infant, they might serve as a guideline in the first few weeks. To learn the sounds more quickly, try keeping an audio journal as you go. Record a cry, find the solution, and then record what worked. Compare the sounds later for different solutions. It’ll help keep the stress levels in your household low, as each fit will be stopped as quickly as possible.

Source: Takeo Fujiwara et al: Infant Distress at Five Weeks of Age and Caregiver Frustration. The Journal of Pediatrics Volume 159 Issue 3 pp. 425-430 September 2011

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