Crying is a baby’s forte. As their primary means of communication, you’re bound to hear them wail. They cry when they’re hungry, sleepy, or just need a diaper change. But what if they’re too quiet?
There are instances where babies won’t cry as much as you’d expect. Does that mean your baby is sick? Is there something wrong with your baby? Should you be worried? Read on to find out the science behind their crying!
How Babies Cry Right After Birth
Babies cry at birth as an indicator of healthy lungs. They are exposed to a new environment such as cold air, which triggers their crying. Consequently, their lungs will expand and amniotic fluid and mucus will be expelled as well.
There are cases where a baby’s cry is delayed at birth because of various factors such as the difficulty of the delivery, a nuchal cord, and the like. Regardless, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t healthy. Doctors may stimulate their first cry by suctioning fluid from their mouth or nose or by drying them off.
However, if the delayed crying is accompanied by emergency signs, urgent medical attention is required. Doctors will evaluate the newborn’s health by using the measurement, the Apgar score, which stands for:
A – Appearance (skin colour)
P – Pulse (heart rate)
G – Grimace (response or reflex irritability)
A – Activity (muscle tone)
R – Respiration (breathing)
Each one will be scored 0, 1, or 2 with two being the best and will be added to find the total score. This test is usually performed at one and five minutes after birth, or 10, 15, and 20 minutes should the resulting score become low.
If the score is 0-3, the baby is in critical condition, a score between 4-6 means they need immediate medical intervention, and a score of 7 and higher means they are normal.
How Much Do Newborns Cry?
On average, studies have found that newborns cry for about two hours a day.
There are several reasons why babies cry and you’ll find that they mean various things.
- Hunger. Babies cry to signal their hunger to their parents. Once you feed them, they will eventually stop crying.
- Sleepiness. Put them in a comfortable position and the crying will die down as they all asleep.
- Bloatedness. Some babies cry when they are fed too much milk. If they start crying after feeding, it may not be gas as too much milk causes discomfort.
- Clothing. The clothes they wear affect their body temperature. If they’re too hot or too cold, your baby may cry.
- Dirty Diaper. When their diaper is full, it may irritate their skin and cause pain and burning.
Reasons Your Baby Is Not Crying
If you notice that your baby is crying for less than the average time, there are two reasons behind this.
One, which is the most favourable, is that your baby feels secure. This means that you have been observant of your baby’s needs and tend to them immediately. Of course, there may be instances where you won’t be able to such as when you’re asleep. They will whimper and cry for a short while but will immediately sleep once you attend to them.
Otherwise, it may be because of chromosomal abnormalities. These abnormalities cause symptoms that relate to having an extremely happy nature.
Angelman Syndrome is an example of these chromosomal abnormalities. Babies diagnosed with this have developmental and intellectual delays, jerky movements, sleep disturbances, and frequent laughter or smiling. Although this disorder is rare, its gene is linked to autism, which affects 1 in 150 Singaporean children.
How Babies Communicate Without Crying
In case your baby doesn’t cry enough when they need something, look out for these cues to figure out their needs:
- Putting their hands to mouth
- Turning their head towards mum’s breasts or the baby bottle
- Smacking or licking their lips
- Clenching their hands
- Reaching or pointing to the food
- Opening their mouth when offered food
- Pulling at their ears
- Closing their fists
- Difficulty in focusing such as fluttering eyelids and going cross-eyed
- Having jerky leg and arm movements
- Sucking on their fingers
- Bad smell
- Pulling at the side of the diaper
- Making faces like scrunching their nose
- The diaper feels warmer and wet
In A Nutshell…
Crying is normal behaviour for babies that when they don’t do it enough, it gets worrying. It may be because of severe medical reasons or you’ve simply done a very good job at taking care of them. Either way, stay attentive to all of their cues when communicating!
How often does your newborn cry? Share it in the comments section below!