Do you remember playing “hot hot cold” as a kid?  It goes like this, child A hides something and child B looks for it…if child B is going off in the wrong direction, child A says, “cold, cold, freezing,” etc but as child B gets closer, child A says, “warm, warmer, warmer, hot, hot hot.”

Well, clearly my little son is a prodigy because we are already playing this game.

A few nights ago, the baby monitor flickered on and urgent screeches emanated.  Aw crap.  It was 11 pm and I was all snuggled in bed with a good book and TAF was curled around me warming up my back (obligation #1 of husbands).

I did what any good mother would do…

…I lay there hoping my husband would offer to get up.

He did what any good father would do…

…he lay there hoping I would offer to get up.

Usually, we can both lie there in a stalemate for a couple of minutes while the baby puts himself back to sleep.  But that night the cries just escalated.  So I got up…because I have a bleeding heart and since I’m not back at work yet at least the possibility, however remote, of a nap the next day.

I’ll be honest with you.  I never know why my baby is crying.  I have read that if you pay attention you can discern a hungry cry from a wet cry or a boredom cry or a tired cry…I can’t.  If my child is crying I look at the clock.  Is it close to nap time?  If so, he must be tired.  Has it been a few hours since the last nosh?  If so, he must be hungry.  Has he just toppled over, avoiding the “safety bear,” a stuffy that I place behind him, and smacked his head on the carpet?  Well, he must be scared or hurt.

But at 11 pm, I have no idea what is going on because he never wakes up at 11 pm.

I went into his room and picked him up.  Crying.

I offer to nurse him.  Crying…but louder and twisting away.  I pick him up again.  Crying, less loud.

I change him.  Crying…louder.  Screaming…in fact.

And that’s when I realized something, we were playing hot hot cold…but instead of saying, “hot,” or “cold,” my pre-verbal son was using dialing the volume up and down on his screaming.

I walked out of his room….quiet.  I walked back into his room…screaming.

By walking around the house and changing direction based on the volume of the protest, he eventually ended up fairly content lying on the bed between us chewing his new teether…

…so, being the brilliant parents we know we are (what do you get when a tigger gets married to a tigger?  I can fly!  Tiggers can do everything!) we decided he must be screaming in pain from teething.  After all, he drools like Jabba the Hutt, chomps down on everything he can get into his mouth and molests it with his gums, and we can see the tiny white speck of his lower central incisor just itching to burst through.

That’s when I conceived the brilliant (Tigger, remember?) plan to give him a dose of baby tylenol.  Which he took with minimal protest.  Of course, it can’t be entirely a coincidence that 30 minutes later he’d settled down enough that we had the confidence to put him back in his crib with a kiss and let him go back to sleep.

Here we are, several days later, still toothless but with a wicked common cold…and, even if we have several theories, still no real explanation for the crying jag.

But I love our new hot hot cold trick.



  1. We had a few of those random night time screaming jags in the two weeks before we left on our vacation (somewhere between 9:30-11:00 pm) and we speculated on a whole bunch of causes — teething, sickness, separation anxiety, etc. etc. — but never really came to any conclusions. On all three occasions, he eventually ended up going back to bed and sleeping brilliantly for the rest of the night, but we’re still not sure what happened and why. Maybe it’s just a “thing” at this age?

    1. According to my hubs I also have unpredictable and incomprehensible crying jags…

      1. Tell him that they’re not unpredictable and incomprehensible; he just has to stop making you upset 😛

  2. Funny and cute post. I could never discern the different types of crying either. Well, except for my older whenever his ears were infected. Oh man, that was a scream fest of epic proportions.


  3. Schtroumpfette · · Reply

    “I’ll be honest with you. I never know why my baby is crying. I have read that if you pay attention you can discern a hungry cry from a wet cry or a boredom cry or a tired cry…I can’t. If my child is crying I look at the clock”: OMG THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU (note to self, bin all these guilt-inducing parenting books).

    1. Don’t bin those books…my best idea yet is to shred them and use them for paper mache for pinatas. Invite some other frustrated parents over and bash them up. Then revel in the contents – extrememly non-organic corn-syrup containing candy!

      I have been home with my child full-time for almost 8 months…I haven’t had any other caregivers around for respite other than a few hours here and there from my husband. I am trained to be observant (diligently monitoring/ vigilance is part of the Canadian Anesthesiology Society’s motto). If I can’t figure out by sound what my infant is trying to tell me, I’m honestly not sure it’s possible. In fact, I’m aware of a few studies where parent’s listened to auditory recordings of their baby’s cries and couldn’t identify the reason for the crying correctly more often than by chance alone. I would bet that if you recorded an infant when it was crying from hunger, discomfort, tiredness etc and put the recording through one of those sound analyzers…all those cries would be pretty much the same.

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