Understanding What Your Baby Is Trying To Tell You


Babies are ultimate source of fun and enjoyment in the family. You will definitely love to spend a whole of laughter, coos and giggles with your little one. However, have you sometimes wished you can decipher the little gestures and sounds that they are making? Perhaps you’ve experienced being confused about the sudden change in mood of your child. We know that babies smile and giggle when they are happy. But what about crying? Whimpering? How about that sudden loud cry that just came from nowhere?

It would be definitely easier if babies can talk and tell us directly if they feel any discomfort or any pain. Actually, babies do communicate with us, way before they speak their first word. They do this by doing some gestures and sounds, such as turning their head to the side and opening their mouth to give you a signal that they are hungry, or rubbing their cute little peepers when they feel tired and sleepy. You just have to learn how to decipher these cues so that you will know the appropriate actions that you need to take once you see them.

Here is a list of some common cues to help you communicate better with your baby. However, keep in mind that not all babies are alike, and your baby might have his or her own way of communicating with you. The best thing to do is to observe your baby’s own cues in order to respond better.

Looking away. Does your baby often turn his head to the side or start playing with his fingers while you’re trying to “talk” to him? This might be really frustrating on your part especially if you are really hyped to play with your little one. However he is most likely trying to tell you that he’s had enough play for now and would like to be left alone, thank you very much. Babies can easily get over-stimulated, and while you might think playtime just started, he’s probably already had enough — for now. Just wait until you baby appears to be ready for playtime. Do not force the baby to play because he/she might get irritated and suddenly cry.

Arching her back. A baby arches her back as a sign of discomfort. If she’s crying as she does this, she most likely has gas or acid reflux. Try picking her up and burping her or let her lie on her stomach. She might also just need a change in position, so try letting her lie on her side (if she was on her back). If she’s in a stroller, pick her up for a few minutes and put her back down. When your baby is about 4 or 5 months, arching her back might mean she’s ready to roll over!

Rubbing eyes. It’s not just you who rubs her eyes when sleepy — babies tend to rub their eyes and ears when tired, too. Babies younger than six months will rub their faces against something when they’re tired. Once they discover their hands, they’ll rub their eyes, and soon, their ears as well. When you notice your infant has started this “rubbing routine”, start a bedtime routine of your own — give him a bath or read him a story –anything that provides comfort and soothes your baby. This gives your baby cues that it’s already bedtime.

Rooting. Newborns, when hungry, will “root”–that is, he’ll turn his head to the side with his mouth open, “searching” for your breast. Obviously, rooting is a cue that your baby is hungry. Your baby stops “rooting” after a few weeks of life… but he’ll still turn his head towards your breast when he’s hungry. So now, when you see your child rooting, you gently pick her up and give her the breast milk that she’s been searching for.

Startling. Babies are born with what’s called a “startle reflex”–that’s when they suddenly jerk, spread out their arms and legs, then pull them back in, then cry. While it may seem like no big deal to us, it is to them: they were enclosed in a warm, tight, cozy space for nine months, and now they’re suddenly given so much space to move in. The baby is still adapting to his new environment that he is still unfamiliar of. Sounds like freedom to us, but to them, it’s quite scary. The startle reflex usually goes away at around three months, so until then, consider swaddling your baby in a blanket to keep him from moving his arms and legs.This will also provide warmth to his body that is just adjusting to the colder environment outside the womb.

Crying. We all know that babies cry. A lot. That’s because when you fail to read their cues (no one’s blaming you as they can be subtle and unnoticeable), they get frustrated and have to get your attention somehow. In the first few months of life, babies routinely cry because of three things: they’re either hungry (so feed them), gassy (make them burp), or sporting a dirty diaper (change it). As you get to know your baby more, you’ll learn to decipher which cry means which. By the time they’re about two months old, add “sleepy” and “pain” to your list of “cries”: “sleepy” cries are usually long and die down when you start your bedtime routine. “Pain” cries are more startling, high-pitched, and last longer.

As your baby grows older, he will suddenly be able to communicate effectively, but as of now it would be better if you are observant on the cues and messages that your baby is trying to say.


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