Cry, Baby, Cry

August 15, 2010

I was on a train, which was held on the platform yesterday. On said platform, I heard a baby crying. The little mite was really going for it. I thought benevolently: “poor thing must be hungry or distressed.” I was in a good mood, so it didn’t bother me. That, and because it was at the far end of the platform, so it wasn’t that loud. It set me thinking about crying babies, because there is something about that sound that is marginally less painful than having your fingernails pulled off, or your nuts in a vice.

Cute baby doll. Head only

Why can’t babies always be like this?

We know it’s a baby’s way of letting you know what’s going on, because they don’t yet have the power of full speech. I’m not a parent, so I’m bound to see it differently, but I wonder if as parents you don’t hear the crying in the same way as others do. I ask this because sometimes when I’m on a bus and a baby is in full flight, the parent (and it’s usually a mother) gets the evils from almost every passenger. Some even tut, and some of them are parents with older children. It’s almost as if the bus full of passengers think the parent deliberately lets them scream the bus down, and for the parents with the older children, it’s as if they’ve forgotten their own baby distress. My observation is that sometimes nothing can calm the child down and I can see, at times, that the parent is equally distressed. Not just because of the baby, but because of the added stress of enduring the collective skunk eye of the passengers on the bus. Or is that just in Britain?

On the lighter side, I found myself musing on the following: why do interrogators use various dubious methods to gain information when they could use a recording of a baby in serious distress and get what they need in double quick time? Baby crying could be warning signs at dangerous spots to keep people away. It could be the sound of the fire alarm in offices, though it may cause confusion to parents. However, setting it off at a decibel to make a clubber want to run home and recover with a hot cocoa, would leave you in no doubt there’s a potential fire in the building and you need to leave pronto. Sirens of the emergency services could be baby screams at different tonal levels, and at football matches, no Vuvuzelas would be required.

I’m sure there are other ways of using the sound of a baby crying in every day life that I hadn’t thought of. I’m giving you the opportunity to let your imagination run free. So go ahead. Make my baby’s day.



  1. Boy, I don’t think I could beat your ideas — emergency vehicles with baby-scream sirens just about does me in!

    • It’s a hell of a concept, isn’t it? If I think of any more, I may add them, or make a list on another post.

  2. Have had the experience at close range, it’s daunting. Anyone would think that I deliberately ordered my offspring with the volume button set to 200db and on a frequency that makes your ear drums bleed.
    Nope, sorry, babies appear to install that themselves and when they feel the need to use it, there’s not a darned thing the parent can do to stop it.
    If the nipper is wailing because they have just let rip a stinky “number two” on the bus and screams for this discomfort, other passengers would heap on even more indignation if said parent tried to change a nappy on the bus.
    Thinking of it, you’d cry rather loudly too if you’d just heartily soiled yourself on a bus and had to just sit in the mess until you got to your destination.
    Basically it’s a loose / loose situation for parents, Mothers even get flack for wanting to breastfeed in public to keep their kids happy and quiet.
    Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, people will “blame the parents” in a nano-second but to consider the parents alternatives? Never!
    Landing in Phoenix airport with my daughter, then aged 3 months, she screamed the worst she had ever done before or since, it wasn’t rocket science to guess that clearly her ears hurt… a LOT.
    I tried everything possible and it was SO VERY clearly a pain cry that I was close to tears myself. Was it pleasant to listen to?, of course not, you think she and I enjoyed the experience? Duh…. If you have to consider that answer at all then you’d need brain transplant.
    I personally think that it will be TOTALLY ok for people to cititize the parents of crying babies only when it’s fully acceptable for a parent to change nappies and breastfeed and sing child to sleep, ANYWHERE without criticism… and said parent has not done all of those things .. then they have (maybe) failed.(Some babies cry for no apparent reason)
    Please realise that I have as much power to stop my baby from crying as I have of getting my Hunsband to read the instructions BEFORE trying to assemble … well, anything.
    Read: It ain’t happening in my lifetime!
    Be realistic people. Parents can never win this one, so unless you want a leaking, stinky used nappy thrown into your lap on a bus with a viciously ironic “Happy NOW???” then maybe people should actually think the parents REAL options through in these situations.
    My own view?: …a crying baby is a crying baby, so what? you were one once too,and probably worse, so don’t be a hypocrite.
    They do eventually grow out of it.. (well kind of)… crying babies mostly just grow up to become the moaning, whingeing public. What comes out of their mouths is pretty hard to put up most of the time too, no?

    • That’s a fulsome and heartfelt reply, Kiwi. Thank you. I love the idea of pissed of mothers throwing used nappies with contents at the scowling public. A few months of that and attitudes would change very quickly.

      I’ve never understood the antipathy towards breastfeeding either. It’s a thing that has to be done. If you are faced with the choice of a screaming baby on your bus because he hasn’t been fed, or a happy quiet one at his mother’s breast, it’s obvious you’d go for option 2, yes? On the other hand I have very little time for the militant breastfeeders who think they are within their rights to do it anywhere without thought for people around them and whop their baps out to prove a point. It does nothing to help the cause for other women to be able to breastfeed without persecution and it’s boring. Anyone can be shocking, but not everyone has the tenacity to bring about real change.

      You’re right about whingeing adults. At least a baby has a reason to make a big noise. Best thing to do is try and block them out and think happy thoughts!

  3. Surely a baby’s cry is a very good method of contraception? If they didn’t cry the world population would currently be around (insert your own large figure) trillion, or however many this planet can sustain. Especially good contraception for couples in the middle of the night, who otherwise might consider the future purchase of a double-buggy not altogether a bad idea.

    • Another use for a baby’s cry – excellent, To55er, excellent! Teenage pregnancy would be wiped out at a stroke! well, alright, it wouldn’t, but it sounded good anyway.

  4. It having been 40 years since my daughters screamed (in high-pitched voices..), and being a man of course, your post triggers ‘solution’ reactions.

    Short needled syringes with a harmless sedative should be available to mothers. When travelling and uncontrollable screaming occurs,in the bus for instant, passengers showing signs of distress could be offered the use of said syringe. Sorted.

    • Bob, you’re an absolute genius! This could be the best idea of the lot. Unless someone can come up with a better one.

  5. “At football matches, no Vuvuzelas would be required” Too funny!

    I have to agree… There are few sounds that rival a baby’s scream as the worst in world. Sometimes I wonder how they get enough air to produce such a torturous sound…

    One time I was on a flight from Orlando to London and a baby cried for a good four hours straight. I was almost to the point of wishing the plane would crash into the Atlantic. Or at the very least I was going to ask for a parachute. I’m sure the sharks wouldn’t have been nearly as loud.

    • It’s a shame that Steven Slater wasn’t on your flight – he would’ve shown you the way out!

  6. Screaming babies? Duct tape.

    • A simple solution that was stone cold, but made me laugh out loud, Betty. Well done!

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