The Mystery Of The Phantom Cry

Being a parent exposes you to some pretty weird phenomena. Like proper Scooby Doo-esque crazy shit.

Who knew that a baby could call on dark powers only ever seen in The Exorcist to projectile vomit from one side of the room to the other? Who knew that a sprog could produce a stench so foul that even their own parents would consider returning them to the hospital? Who knew that a baby could smell a milk-filled boob from over 50-feet away like some ravenous shark picking up on the scent of blood? I certainty didn’t.

But, in my opinion, none of these things are as spooky, mysterious or confusing as the phantom cry. You may not know the phenomenon by the name I have coined, but I’m pretty sure that every parent will have been subject to it at one time or another.

The phantom cry is basically when you hear, or at least think you hear, a noise created by your baby, but you then question whether the noise was real or imagined. The phantom cry predominately occurs when you’re in a separate place to your baby, often when they are in their own room at night or for a nap, so you have your ears half open for any signs of life coming from their direction.

Much like the phantom mobile phone vibrate, which sees you taking your phone out of your pocket when you feel a vibration, only to find that you don’t have a text message, phone call or notification, the phantom cry has plagued every sleep deprived parent since time began.

Even when you have a brief moment to yourself, be it during an afternoon nap or in the evening, the phantom cry has the ability to take your mind off what you are doing and put you into a state of confusion.

Let me outline a typical situation which happens too often in our household for my liking.

It’s 9pm. The baby has been asleep upstairs for 2 hours. You’re sitting on the sofa with the missus enjoying a cider and watching some crap on TV. You hear a noise, but can’t quite process what it was. Was it the baby? Was is on the TV?  Did you imagine it? You just don’t know. You hit the mute button in an attempt to locate the noise. Nothing. You wait some more, expecting and somewhat hoping, to hear a noise from the little one. Still nothing.

You’re now stuck in a dilemma of conundrum proportions, not knowing what to do or what to think. For example:

(A) It was a noise, but not your baby, so everything is OK, (B) There was no noise, so you’re going a little crazy and probably should see the doctor, or (C) Your baby made a noise, which means either…

(C1) They made a noise in their sleep but have now gone quiet, meaning everything is OK, or (C2) They made a noise in their sleep but have now gone quiet, meaning something untoward has happened, thus meaning…

(C2a) Do you go in to check they’re OK, or (C2b) Do you leave them and hope everything is OK?

All of this worrying, thinking and Columbo-esque detective work just because of a noise, or more likely, a non-noise. It’s fine though, because I have come up with a solution. It may not solve the mystery of the phantom cry, but it definite stops you experiencing it…

Simply turn up the volume on the TV and crack open another cider – jobs a good ‘un!

Have you experienced the phantom cry before? What do you do to solve the mystery? Let me know below!

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  • Heard this many a time on my first and rushed upstairs to check and found the baby fast asleep.Then woke the bugger up with the creaky floorboards!Babies 2 and 3 didn’t get rushed at quite so quickly 😉

    • Haha, yeah that’s the worst thing. No matter what you do, you can’t win! 🙂

  • Faye @ Tales and Tea

    Yes! We did this when Twink was small, and both thought we heard crying but it was just an Eva Cassidy song playing in the next room (which, by the way, sounded NOTHING like crying.) So weird!

    • Haha – I’m sure Eva Cassidy would love to hear your comparison of her songs to crying 🙂

  • I do this all the time! My partner thinks I have lost the plot haha.

  • Oh my god this happens all the time! I hear Evelyn cry when she’s staying at her grandparents’ house. Or in that moment right before sleep grips you – you know, where you half dream of taking a step that’s not there and you do a full body twitch and kick the Mrs.

    And the mobile phone thing too!