Why Do Babies Cry?

by Maureen Healy

If there’s one thing everyone knows about babies, it’s that they cry. Frequently. But why do healthy babies cry? The things that make them fuss (and things that won’t) may surprise you.

“Babies are born three months before they’re really ready for the world,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., Los Angeles-based pediatrician and creator of The Happiest Baby on the Block. “What they need is for us to imitate the experience in the womb, which was very active.”

In his 30 years of practice and study, Karp has found that baby crying occurs because:

And then there are some persistent myths to debunk. As Karp explains baby crying does not occur because:

You can cope with a baby that’s crying by using Karp’s Happiest Baby techniques, which he calls “the five S’s:”

These techniques flip on your baby’s calming reflex. Start with one S and add more as needed until your crying baby is soothed.

Learn more about how to handle your baby crying at Baby + You

Maureen Healy is a freelance writer in Portland, Ore., who frequently contributes to Fit Pregnancy, New Parent, Baby & Toddler and Baby + You. She and her partner James McDonough are currently trying to get pregnant with their first child.