Why do babies scream for no reason? I know it feels like your baby is trying pluck your every nerve like a guitar string. However, if your baby had a choice, you can bet that she would make a different decision. That is, if she knows how to make the correct decisions in the first place. Screaming takes a lot of energy. If I was your baby, I would choose to tell you exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, you will have to figure it out. You guessed it, there are methods to do so. For a baby to scream like her life is on the line, there has to be some strong motivation behind it.
I am going in depth with the common physical needs that your baby will have. Some of them serious, and others are very serious. If none of these apply to your baby, then skip to the section for emotional needs.
Is She Hungry?
Babies can scream and cry when they are hungry. There are more obvious signs like moving her hands to her face, sucking on her little hands, You should also check for rooting reflex by gently stroking her cheek. If she turns her head to “suck the air” in that direction then you know she is hungry.
Sometimes, your baby might still be hungry very often for absolutely no reason. This can happen if you have oversupply of breastmilk. Wait a minute. Shouldn’t your baby be full more easily if that is the case? Nope, wrong. Believe it or not, oversupply of milk is a bad thing. Just because your baby is drinking breast milk, it doesn’t mean she is drinking quality breastmilk.
The first milk that your baby sucks out of your breasts are known as foremilk. It is watery, and sugary. It passes through your baby’s intestines way too fast, and doesn’t get absorbed properly. To make it worse, a baby will fall asleep after feeling “full”. However she is not full of good milk, she is full of sugary watery milk. Imagine her drinking lots of water instead of lots of high quality food (breastmilk). Nobody can feel full from that.
There is solution to this. If you have an oversupply of breastmilk, hand pump the foremilk out first, then let your baby latch onto your breasts. What you want is for you baby to drink your hindmilk. Hindmilk has more fat content which slows down the flow of milk down her intestines.
You can tell that your baby is suffering from drinking too much foremilk if she is constantly hungry, choking on the milk (due to overflow), and her poop is diarrhea with blood.
Does Her Diapers Need Changing?
If your baby is screaming because of her diapers, then it has probably gotten to the point of being completely uncomfortable. Your baby is probably screaming because it hurts. Yes, having pee and poop sticking to your butt for too long can eventually hurt.
Pee and poop both have bacteria in it, and pee is acidic so eventually your baby will develop skin rashes. If your diapers a wetness indicator, you can probably tell right away. If not, then simply take a peek through the back for poop. As for pee, if it feels very bulky and heavy then it is time to change it.
Is Your Baby Teething?
Theoretically, babies start teething around four to six months of age. However, that is just a guideline. In reality, your baby can start teething any time depending on genetics and health conditions. A lot of babies don’t actually suffer teething symptoms. However, if your baby happens to be one of the “unlucky winners”, there is a way to handle it.
I mentioned it in one of my teething articles before. Go freeze some mini bagels or cleanly peeled carrots and let your baby chew on it. The cold has awesome numbing effects and the chewing action helps the teeth emerge through the gums. You can tell your baby is teething if she is drooling a lot constantly “biting” something. Her poop will probably have lots of mucus in it due to swallowing too much of her own saliva.
Did She Eat Something She Is Allergic To?
My daughter will throw an earthquake if she ate something she is allergic to. The reason is because she would develop rashes all over her body. It is not a pretty sight. Fortunately, she doesn’t suffer from serious symptoms like losing consciousness, or being unable to breathe. If your baby encountered something that, you will have to send her to an emergency room right away. You would be lucky if she is just screaming at the top of her lungs.
Other things to watch out for are swelling, redness, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing or weird whistle like breathing. If your baby is breastfeeding, then whatever the mother ate passes directly to the baby. If that is the case, the breastfeeding mother will have to clean up her diet. If you suspect your baby has any food allergies, contact your pediatrician as soon as possible.
Did You Forget To Burp Her?
Whenever my daughter finishes eating, I take up the responsibility to burp her properly. I lean her on my chest and gently stroke her back until she burps twice. From personal experience, I notice that burping her once is not enough. She usually has some leftover gas. When I don’t clear it for her, she throws up afterwards (after screaming and crying a lot in the process).
Is She Sick?
Is her face too red or too pale? She might be sick or have some kind of infection. Other signs are watery diarrhea with or without mucus, and constantly pulling on her ear while screaming. Check for fever. Anything above 100.4o F is a high fever. For newborns three months or younger, take this seriously because it can kill her or cost lifetime damage. Contact your pediatrician as soon as possible and have her checked.
Is Your Baby Tongue Tied?
Under our tongues, there is something called the lingual frenulum. You will see it when you lift the tip of your tongue in front of the mirror. It looks like a fleshy “line” in the middle that connects the back of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. When a baby is tongue tied, this line connection is closer to the tip of the tongue rather than all the way at the back of the tongue.
Apparently, it seems to be a genetic defect. Our tongue is responsible for aiding us to making many different kinds of sounds. When your baby has tongue tied problems, screaming seems to be the best sound she can make. You can ask your doctor for a simple surgical procedure to separate the lingual frenulum (which normally separates by itself before birth).
The first signs of tongue problems if you notice that your baby keeps on biting you while you are breastfeeding. This is because the tongue can not assist the sucking action. There are other signs too like sticking out a heart shaped tongue, having trouble moving tongue from side to side, and talking properly. However, you probably won’t notice that until much later.
Does She Have Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is just a fancy way of saying that your baby is not breathing while she is sleeping. Well, accurately speaking she is pausing for too long in between breaths. Theoretically, if your baby stops breathing 20 seconds or more after each breath, then this is most likely the problem.
This problem usually affects preterm infants, because they are born before further development. If you suspect sleep apnea, consult your doctor for advice.
Is She Drowsy?
Apparently, most babies don’t know how to fall asleep on their own. It is true that most of them sleep a lot for the first few months of their life. However, when those days are gone, you will now have to figure out how to get her to sleep.
You can tell that she is sleepy if she is rubbing her eyes a lot.
Is She Too Warm Or Cold?
My wife always feels cold so she assume that our baby daughter is cold too. However, our baby Lilyanna is always sweating like crazy after she gets her mother’s “North Pole Style Protection”. Never assume your baby’s temperature based on your own feelings. Double check your baby’s neck, face, and skin. If her face is red, and her neck is hot and she is sweating then take off some layers. If her face is pale, with slightly pale dark lips, then give her some layers.
However, never overdress your baby because heat is a major risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Is She Constipated?
If your baby’s poop doesn’t come out once a day, or if it comes out looking like a round ball, pellets then your baby might be constipated. Your baby will scream because passing poop is torture for her. Gently massage her belly (if she lets you) or hold her belly down on your forearm to relieve some of her pain (if she lets you).
Emotional needs might seem secondary, and less important compared to actual physical needs. However, they are just as important. Your baby will eventually grow up and become an adult. Remember that you are your baby’s role model. Every result you see in the future is reflected off of every bit of effort you put in now.
Is Your Baby Lonely?
Being surrounded by a bunch of people is not a solution to loneliness. If this confuses you then imagine yourself being in a room full of hostile enemies. Technically you are not physically alone, but you are on your own when it comes to defending yourself or your ideals.
Of course, you are not your baby’s enemy. However, you are not supportive for your baby’s desire to bond with you. The solution to this is to train yourself to emotionally respect your baby as if she is a very good adult friend who is at the same level as you.
It must feel weird to respect someone who doesn’t have the same physical and mental capabilities as you. However, this is what family life is all about. In the future, as your baby get smarter and stronger, she will give you the same amount of respect that you deserve. Like the old saying goes, you get what you give.
If your baby is lonely, talk to her more, and hold her around to see the house you live in. Name the furnitures and point to them. This is what I did with my daughter and she loved it.
Is Your Baby “Making Fun” Of You?
Some babies and toddlers think it is funny when they can control their parents’ emotional behavior. All they have to do is to scream randomly, and they get to see your frustrated look. Believe it or not, this is not the baby’s fault. It is the parents’ fault. It might sound unfair because I seem to be dumping all the responsibility on you, but I tell you that because realizing that is the only way to correct this problem.
One word of warning is to not take this offensively even if you are are pissed off. Remember, you are your child’s emotional role model. Your behavior now will definitely haunt you some time in the future. First, take a deep breath, and calm down.
The only way to stop your baby from “making fun of you” is to dry out the humor. It is very simple. Pretend you are some kind of robot whenever your baby screams to get your attention. Give her a dry look and calmly ask, “are you hungry?”, or whatever physical needs you can think of as I mentioned earlier. The key is to not show any emotions. Remember, you are a robot.
Sometimes, your baby really does have a physical need (like she wants an apple for example), but she doesn’t know how to say the world. This is a perfect opportunity to teach her how to say food. Whenever she screams and you suspect that she wants to eat something, bring the food to her and saying food.
Repeat it several times and see if she is willing to imitate you. Take every chance you have to teach her, especially when she seems to be randomly making fun of you. This will eventually correct her behavior because her role model (you) never scream.
Is She Overstimulated?
This is something that happened to my daughter at her three month party. My baby was three months old and we were doing a celebration. Everybody in the party wanted to hold my daughter. After the third adult’s holding, my daughter was fed up and started screaming like crazy. I carried around and finally calmed her down ten minutes later.
If you overwhelm your baby with lots of lights, and noise, then expect to suffer from the consequences later.
Is It Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a fancy way of saying that the baby only wants to be around a specific adult. My daughter has a little bit of that too. If she goes too far from her mother, she would panic like crazy.
To handle this, you and your child will have to practice separating from each other for short periods consistently. If you are leaving, don’t make a big deal and just do a quick goodbye. The less you make it an “event”, the better.
If None Of The Above, Then It Is Probably Normal
Sometimes, your child is just learning to use her voice properly. It can be pretty exciting to make use of her voice for the first time. Respect and calmly tell her no, and remind her she shouldn’t do that. Don’t scream at her and create a vicious cycle as I mentioned earlier. She role models after your behavior.
Besides, it is normal for children to have energy. The worst scenario you can have is if your child shows signs of listlessness, or lack of energy. Healthy children tend to be loud and aggressive. As they grow up, they will get better on their own, as long you are a good role model.
If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section below.