This is my theory on newborn babies so far. They have 5 basic needs. I am tired, I am hungry, I have gas, I have shit in my pants, I want a cuddle. I feel like my baby has signals for each of these, and so far, as long as read them right, I have yet to experience a total emotional meltdown. (Like I have said before, all babies are different, but maybe these cues I have noticed will be helpful to you!)
1) Tired: I find the indication of being tired, beyond the classic rubbing eyes or yawning, is a whiny sounding cry. (If I mistake tired for hungry, and try to feed her, I find she is just really chaotic and messy at my boob. Like she bobs her head around a lot, and just can’t seem to get it together to eat. I then just put her over my shoulder and rock/jiggle her so she is not distracted by the boob and can just go to sleep)
2) Hungry: I find there is a warning sign before she gets really pissed. It is like a short, direct, “meh” noise. She will repeat it over and over, and with gusto. this cry to be super intense. Very passionate sounding. Like it is coming from the pit of her soul. Like there is nothing patient about it. But like a wild beast fighting for its life. It is almost emotionally jarring for me and I feel panicked trying to whip my boob out fast enough. (Also look for lip smacking, or mouth movement as an early warning sign for hunger).
3) I have shit in my pants: A little bit like the hungry in its intensity, but more angry. There is an annoyed sound like “get it together mom and get this shit out of my pants before it seeps into my vagina.” I can often mistake the shit in my pants cry for hungry, so before I feed her, I always to a quick check of the diaper.
4) I have gas: This cry is also a whiny sound… but there is something about it that says “I am uncomfortable.” It is usually accompanied by some sort of body thrashing. Like she is trying to work something out. It could be a burp, which is great because you can help them with that, but it could also be a fart… or an upcoming shit. Not much you can do, besides rub their bellies clockwise, or pump their legs into their abdomen to help get farts out. Sometimes a little verbal encouragement will help too!
5) I need a cuddle: Usually the cuddle leads to sleeping, so it also has that whiny sound, but it is more endearing. I don’t know how to describe it better than that, but there is something in the tone that is like, I am tired, but I want to be hugged by you too.