When a baby is born they already know how to cry. If you inflict pain, their reaction is to cry.

My question is NOT why do they cry because that is obvious: they are uncomfortable, they are cold, they have been squeezed or as my Mom would say: They are crying because this world is evil and they don't want to be here.

To further remove any confusion: I do not care why they cry.

I had no luck finding anything online except this Q&A with this answer:

So your first natural response is to cry, or as you like to think of it, to produce noises from your vocal throat. This is an inbuilt response. As you grow up you notice every time you emit this noise you are given food, attention, and your basic needs are accounted for. This is a learned response.

The interesting bit from the above quote is:

produce noises from your vocal throat.


  1. Why do humans know crying?
  2. If it is not crying and you call it noises from vocal throat then why do babies produce those noises instead of noises such as laughter noises? Clearly they know that the crying type noise will get us to provide them comfort but the laughing type will not.

Perhaps when they are in the womb they can feel when the mother cries, it causes discomfort; so maybe they learn it that way through association. But that begs the question: Why don't they learn laughing in the womb as well?

I will downvote answers that try to state why babies cry since I made it clear that is not my question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Isn't crying just a natural instinct for humans? That is, behaviour encoded for by our genes. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jun 25, 2017 at 20:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'm having difficulty with this question - look at your own words for a moment: first you ask: Why do humans know crying? and subsequently you say I will downvote answers that try to state why babies cry... Isn't this a bit difficult to reconcile? Given this contradiction, your question feels a bit like a trap, as if we need to be able to read your mind before answering, else we get downvotes on our plates. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jun 26, 2017 at 8:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I see where you are heading. Perhaps it would clarify things when you would carefully consider whether you are asking a Why or a How question. As of now they are both contained in the question, making it kind of broad. The title question (How) is Neurobiology. The first question in the body is actually the one question you do not seem to want to have answered (get rid of it!). The second question in the body is a why question, and actually a why not. this is an evolutionary perspective and also tends to generate answers that you apparently are going to downvote. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The post is, taken altogether, a bit convoluted. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Why do we know how to breathe? Same idea. $\endgroup$
    – mrt
    Jun 27, 2017 at 3:06