Bawling infants

These questions are about what red, contorted-faced bawling and screaming infants do, with some of the loudest sounds reserved for the hiccup-like intake of breath for another go.
I am a childless uncle with my (tiny) share of experience.

  1. Would a mother–interesting question if this gender-based–recognize her child’s bawling emanating from a whole large group of crying infants, as do birds in some of the monster flocks they show on Nature?

  2. Is crying like that evolutionarily designed to be so damn annoying that the caregiver has to notice (and usually give food)? Or loud, for same reasons?

  3. Once the listener is out of parenthood, is hearing bawling like that *always *so fearful (unless you’re a pediatrician or in the child care industry). Restaurants, theaters, public parks, you know what I mean.

In my experience and opinion, yes to the first two. For the third, I’m not sure what you mean by “fearful.” You still hate it and want it to stop. Since you can’t do anything about it, you want the actual caretaker to take it away.

When our kids were babies or toddlers, if I heard one child crying in a group, I sometimes thought “Is that mine?” and was wrong. But I don’t recall ever thinking “Oh, that’s not my kid” and then finding out that it was. Same thing with the other mothers in these groups.

My husband and I have sometimes joked that there’s something in a baby’s cry that exactly matches the resonant frequency of your neck vertebrae. (Yes, as a matter of fact, we are that geeky.) It’s so unpleasant and provokes such a strong reaction that it’s hard to believe this is pure accident. But it looks to me like it has that effect on pretty much everyone, from little kids to old people, and including people who do not want to become parents themselves. So I don’t think parenting status has anything to do with it. Natural selection favored the babies whose cries made everyone in the village grab the kid and tell its mother Feed this thing already!!!

Failed Mardi Gras promotion idea #5: Yell “Show us your boobs!” and when she does, stick a baby on 'em.

Hearing a baby cry would make my breasts gorge up with breast milk. This went on long after I was breastfeeding. When I hear a baby cry I must satisfy myself that someone’s taking care of it before I can relax. Once I see someone is dealing with the infant - whether stopping it crying or not, I’m good, the noise is no longer compelling.