Why Babies Get Angry

When a baby cries out of anger, she tends to keep her eyes half-closed and the intensity of her cries progressively increase, according to the February 2013 Science Daily article titled, “Fear, Anger or Pain: Why Do Babies Cry?” It doesn’t take much to make a baby upset and when she feels angry, crying is the only way she knows how to communicate her distress 13. By understanding why a baby might get angry, you can do more to comfort her.

Unmet Needs

A baby’s needs are simple: he needs to eat, sleep and stay clean. According to the Mayo Clinic’s article, “Crying Baby: What to Do when Your Newborn Cries,” when a baby feels hungry, he can get upset or even start to panic 3. Some babies like to sleep up to 16 hours a day. If a little one feels as though he can’t settle down for a snooze, he’ll get fussy. If your baby is sensitive to being in a wet or soiled diaper, he might become angry if you don’t clean him up fast enough.

Feelings of Discomfort

When you feel uncomfortable, you usually know how to fix the problem. The same isn’t true for a baby, and seemingly prolonged discomfort can make her feel upset. Colic, teething, and feeling too hot or too cold can trigger tears. If a baby is swaddled, but wants to move, loosen the blanket. According to the Mayo Clinic, a baby can also get upset if she feels lonely 3.


The process of trying to reach developmental milestones such as crawling can make a baby feel frustrated and angry, according to the article “Steps toward Crawling” on the Zero to Three website 2. Wanting something that he can’t have can also upset a baby. For example, if your baby is in his car seat and can’t reach his bottle or a toy, he’ll let you know by crying.

Genetics and Neurobiological Fetal Development

Genetics and a baby’s fetal development can make a baby more likely to feel angry. In the "Scientific America" article, “Taming Baby Rage: Why Are Some Kids so Angry?” by Nikhil Swaminathan, professor Richard Tremblay of the University of Montreal said he believes a genetic signature predisposes a baby to feel more angry or act more aggressively than others 4. Tremblay also states that the neurobiological development of a fetus can be a good predictor of a baby’s temperament if the mother drinks, smokes, is stressed or has a poor diet while she’s pregnant. The professor’s studies show that a pregnant mother’s habits can negatively affect her unborn child’s genes, possibly making it harder for her baby to reach developmental milestones related to communication.