There is a myth, oft-perpetrated, that a mother will instinctively or automatically know what is wrong with her baby by the sound of its cry.
I call shenanigans.
Here are some easier, more obvious signs to look for to see what is wrong with your baby.
All of the below is written from personal experience, without reference to professional advice. If you believe your baby is showing unusual or distressing signs, please take her to a doctor.
Hunger: A baby will often show she is hungry by putting her hand to her mouth, chewing or sucking her fingers. She will also snuffle and prod at you when you hold her, seeking a nipple to suck. It’s also worth keeping track of the time your baby last ate; you can guess that a baby who ate an hour ago isn’t very likely to be crying out of hunger, while a baby who ate four hours ago is probably starving.
Tiredness: A baby will put her hands to her eyes and ears, rubbing or pulling, to show she is tired. She will also yawn, just like an adult. An overtired baby often has jerky movements in her arms and legs. It is also worth keeping track of time; a baby up to several months old can become overtired after just one and a half hours of being awake.
Dirty nappy: Just check it! I find it easiest to peek in the side, through a leg hole, as opposed to looking down from the top/waist.
Gas: Often bears a strong resemblance to hunger; as far as a baby is concerned, both are just pains in the tummy. But a gassy baby may also draw her legs up close to her tummy, and/or wiggle or strain while trying to burp or fart.
Boredom or loneliness: When all else fails, cuddle your baby! Well, you should be cuddling her frequently anyway. She’ll love it, and it’s good for both of you.
If none of these things seem to be the solution to your baby’s cries, it is possible she is ill or in pain, and medical advice should be sought. This blog post is not intended as replacement for such advice.