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Decoding Baby's Cries

Looking for answers to baby's cries? Here's how to understand the tears.
baby crying Sob Story

Four years ago, just after the birth of our oldest daughter, I read somewhere that most mothers are able to tell what their babies want by the sound of their cries. I was awed -- and confounded -- as Phoebe's cries all sounded the same to me.

Turns out I wasn't alone. In studies analyzing the acoustics of crying, even pediatric nurses could not determine the cause of a cry based on how it sounded. "It's a myth that you can tell what's wrong by the sound of the cry," says Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician in Los Angeles and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. "Babies are like smoke alarms: You can't tell if you burnt the toast or if the whole house is burning down."