Study Examines Why Babies Cry

Study Examines Why Babies cry

A new study examines what makes babies cry, noting patterns associated with specific needs. The study is an effort to help parents identify whether their baby is angry, frightened, or in pain.

A researcher from the University of Valencia worked with teams from the University of Murcia and the National University of Distance Education to complete the study. The study, conducted in Spain, recorded patterns of crying and associated body language in 20 babies between the ages of three and 18 months. Researchers then recorded parents’ perception of whether the babies were angry, frightened, or in pain.

As reported by, the results revealed that babies that are crying due to anger or fear are more likely to keep their eyes open. Babies who are in pain are more likely to close their eyes.

Researchers noted that the intensity and pattern of crying can indicate a baby’s feelings as well:

“… when angry the majority of babies keep their eyes half-closed, either looking in apparently no direction or in a fixed and prominent manner. Their mouth is either open or half-open and the intensity of their cry increases progressively.”

Frightened babies’ crying was found to be more gradual, eventually becoming “explosive.” Babies who are in pain react by crying immediately and loudly.

Unfortunately researchers noted that the parents in the study often misinterpreted their baby’s cry. Most parents can immediately recognize if their baby is in pain, but fail to distinguish between frightened and angry crying.

As discussed on, if parents have determined that their baby is not hungry, in pain, or frightened, it is OK to let the crying “run its course.” They suggest taking a few moments to relax, as sometimes babies just need to cry.

Exploring what makes babies cry is beneficial for frustrated parents who want to understand how their baby feels.

[Image via deviantArt]