Understanding a newborn sometimes seems like nuclear science. But in reality, the fact that they can't talk and tell you what's going on doesn't mean they don't try to communicate their needs and feelings.
Crying is the universal form of babies to communicate discomfort, pain, hunger, and tiredness. Generally, a baby cries when he's unhappy and has an urgency to meet his needs.
We've talked in the past about hunger cues, ways your baby communicates hunger, or the need for comfort sucking. Learning about your baby's hunger cues will facilitate your life and your baby's.
But what about crying? Is there a specific cry for each need?
That's what I used to hear before becoming a mom. So, besides caring for another human being, I must learn a new language?! What pressure!
But I don't think that's what Grandma meant… Yes! A new level of understanding between you and your baby comes with experience. And basically -consciously or not- we learn by observation, trial, and error. That's why when we notice a baby crying, the mom simply says, "He's ok; he's just tired." This mother is confident about her assessment because she knows her child and has seen the same behavior repeatedly.
Newborn needs are simple. A healthy newborn cries when starving, tired, overstimulated, needs a diaper change, or is cold or hot. It only takes making a mental check-up list to determine what's happening with your baby.
Of course, he will cry if he's not feeling well, but usually, in those cases, the baby's inconsolable. Then is when you should look for medical help. In the rest -and most cases- you'll find a way to calm your baby by just check-marking your list of possibilities.
One more thing! If you're breastfeeding, note that the breast serves many purposes, including feeding, soothing, helping with bowel movements, and dealing with pain. So, here's your magic wand. Plus, there's no way to overfeed a baby by breastfeeding. Whenever you're unsure, you may offer the boob anytime. If he's hungry, you'll know by his active sucking; if not, you can rule out other possible issues.