Did You Know? Your Baby’s Cry Can Indicate More than Just Hunger

Written by Rama Manikumar on Mon, 11 December 2023 — Fact checked by Dr. Naveeda Adam

Key Highlights

  • A baby’s cry can signify various needs or discomforts, ranging from hunger and sleepiness to pain and distress.
  • It's essential to recognize these different cries as part of understanding your baby's unique communication method.
  • Apart from crying, other critical signs like fever, vomiting, unusual inactivity, or changes in bowel movements should alert parents.
  • There are specific scenarios, such as persistent crying, high fever, refusal to feed, forceful vomiting, or changes in urination patterns, where consulting a pediatrician becomes imperative.

Are You Confused Why Your Baby Is Crying This Time Around?

Are you a new parent? Are you often clueless about why your baby is crying despite you just fed him? Well, babies cry for different reasons. As they don’t come with an instruction manual, you need to figure out what their cry means. One of the most common reasons for their cry is being sick. Although being sick is part and parcel of growing up, there are some alarming signs that you should give your attention to the baby crying as a parent.

Early Signs Of Your Baby Are Not Feeling Okay

The best judge of your baby’s health is their actions. Generally, when your child is active, has a good appetite, curious about their surroundings, and gets enough uninterrupted sleep at night is considered a healthy child.

Early Signs Of Your Baby Are Not Feeling Okay

However, a sick child may give you the following signs:

  • Cry without getting comforted easily.
  • Feeling irritable
  • Unusually quiet and inactive
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rise in temperature
  • Lose interest in the surrounding.
  • Visibly tired, pale, or flushed
  • Complains of cold

Some common symptoms are:

  • Pain in the abdomen, ears, throat, or muscles
  • Fever indicates the presence of an underlying infection which might be bacterial or viral.
  • Vomiting
  • Rash is quite common in children. Rashes are the result of infectious diseases or allergic reactions.
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea can cause dehydration in babies which is a result of watery stool.

When To See A Doctor?

When To See A Doctor?

Minor infections which cause fever or rashes can subside on their own and are often not a reason for worry. But, there are some warning signs for which you must visit a doctor. They are as follows:

1. Persistent Crying or Irritability

As the baby cannot verbalize their needs and feelings, they only communicate through crying. You can judge your baby’s cry based on hunger, sleep, wetting, stomach upset, pain, or separation. You might able to comfort them for most of the reasons. But if they continuously cry, are fretful or fussy, or even their cry sounds unusual, it may be a sign of underlying illness such as colic or swelling. In such cases, you must take them to doctors.

2. Fever

Fever is a sign of underlying infections such as ear infections, pneumonia, colds, urine infections, etc. For babies aged 3 to 6 months, a temperature above 100.4 degrees is an alarming sign. Similarly, if your baby is one year old and his temperature is above 101 degrees and lasts for 24 to 48 hours should be a worrisome condition and you must seek medical advice.

High fever in children aged between 6 months to 5 years can lead to febrile seizures or convulsions. Though it is not harmful, it is certainly a frightful experience for babies. If your child's condition deteriorates, you must take them to the doctor immediately.

3. Poor Appetite

Generally, babies need feeding every three to four hours initially. They show signs of hunger by sucking their thumb, crying, etc. However, if he refuses to feed or misses his feeds at regular times, it’s a sign of illness. If frequently missing feed leads to weight loss, it is a reason to meet your doctor.

4. Vomiting

Vomiting, or spitting milk while burping or after feeds is a common thing in babies. However, spitting a large amount of milk after every feeding, or forceful vomiting can indicate the underlying illness. In such cases, you should consult your doctors.

5. Irregular Stools

If your child is passing very hard stools or has difficulty in passing stools then, he/she may need more fluids. Loss of fluids generally occurs due to fever, heat, or illness.

6. Urination

Initially, it is considered normal if your baby wet at least four diapers in a day. There are various signs you can get from babies’ urine patterns. If the child is having difficulty urinating, then it may indicate that infection or any other problem with the urinary tract. Similarly, if you notice pinkish stains on a child’s diaper for a longer period, you must visit the nearest doctor immediately.

You Know Your Baby Best

To keep your child healthy, breastfeeding is the ultimate solution. Breastfeeding provides your child with the required antibodies and enzymes that improve their immunity.

If your baby is active, sleeping, and eating well, you must not worry about their health. But, if you notice your child is sluggish, lost his appetite, is vomiting, and has a fever it could be a sign of underlying health conditions.

In such cases, you must visit a good doctor immediately.


Understanding your baby’s cries is a crucial aspect of parenting. These cries are more than just requests for food; they're complex signals indicating various needs and sometimes health concerns.

Through careful observation and understanding, parents can become more attuned to their baby's unique communication. Trust in your parental instincts, but don't hesitate to seek medical advice when necessary.

This journey of understanding is a profound step in the beautiful and ever-evolving journey of parenthood.


Rama Manikumar

Rama is a nutritionist and a lifestyle consultant. Having worked in the health industry for more than 20 years, her expertise in health and well-being brings a fresh and healthy approach to everyday habits- food and lifestyle. She walks the talk and delivers excellent quality nutrition, and helps develop habits that peak health & Well- being. Rama Holds a Batchelor’s degree in Biology; Extended/Specialized degree in Nutrition & Dietetics (Pennsylvania State Univ. USA).

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Our team of experts frequently monitors developments in the health and wellness field, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Dec, 11 2023

Written By

Rama Manikumar

Fact checked By

Dr. Naveeda Adam

Dec, 01 2023

Written By

Rama Manikumar

Fact checked By

Dr. Naveeda Adam