A Guide to Why Babies Cry

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My son has reached that wonderful stage of life…almost 18 months. Now, to the outside world, this is one of the BEST phases ever. They’re just so darn cute! They imitate what people do, but in a way that just makes you melt. They blow kisses, wave hi and bye, and hug each other, and make it all seem worthy of a hallmark card. Their babbles are starting to take on a new tone…or many. They can babble with inflection now so it sounds as though they are actually having a conversation with you…except you have no idea what they’re saying (maybe that’s not really different from most conversations). Basically, they are big balls of cuteness, oozing charm out of every pore. But don’t be deceived. We veteran parents know the truth. Terrible twos? They start now! It’s that perfect combination of self awareness (i.e. I want to do what mommy/daddy/sister/brother/random passerby is doing, or I now see objects in high places and want to get them, or I wonder what happens if I do this?) a desire for independence (I want to walk the mile across the parking lot by myself at a .5 mph pace and no I don’t want to hold your hand) and a need for some dependence (I can’t get the macaroni on my fork, can’t get the fork to my mouth, still poop and pee my pants, etc). It’s the combination for the perfect storm that lasts well into their threes. And so brings meltdown after meltdown. King Toot is this and then some. He is drama, drama, drama. He favors the classic tantrum where he will lay down face first and kick his hands and feet. He seems to scream and cry constantly and it’s very hard to figure out why. You think it’s because he’s not getting his way and then he sprouts a fever…or a few teeth…or poop. Then you realize maybe he isn’t a complete brat. So I’m making my own list of why kids cry. To aid in interpreting.

Are they drooling profusely? They might be teething…or hungry…or thirsty. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow.

Is their face red? They might be working on a nice present for you in their diaper and their little sphincters are struggling…or maybe they are developing a fever and getting sick…or maybe they were out in the sun too long and were sunburned…or maybe it’s because they’ve been screaming for ten minutes without pausing to breathe…Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you.

Are they sweating? Maybe they are too hot…or they have a fever…or they really got their little hearts pumping with those acrobatic kicks and flailings as they were fighting off the nail clippers. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again.

Are their clothes wet? Maybe those four cups of water they had finally hit them all at once and the diaper couldn’t handle the load…or maybe they found the dog bowl again…or their sister’s cup of water…or the toilet. Either way, they’re uncomfortable now and indignant that you haven’t changed them.

Do they have bruises or lumps on them? Probably from last week, but if you recently heard a loud crash they might have been trying to scale the bookcase again while you were trying to pee. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again until you finally yell at them to please leave you alone.

No noticeable symptoms? Their back might itch where they can’t scratch it, or they haven’t been able to figure out how to achieve world peace, their sisters won’t share the toy they’re playing with, the sun is too bright, their clothes are too blue, the water is too wet, the floor is too hard, someone looked at them at 1:53 which is clearly unacceptable, or they still haven’t gotten the new scooter they wanted. Either way, just baton down the hatches…it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Try a smattering of things to fix this and then give up and let them cry while you cry (or scream) into a pillow, while your other kids keep poking you repeating, “Mom!” over and over again until you finally yell at them to please leave you alone and throw them all into bed. My motto no matter what time it is…it’s bedtime somewhere.

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