One of the most difficult things about being the parent of a baby is that they have very limited ways of communicating.
Sure, there’s the obvious laughter and crying, but apart from that, trying to work out what is going on in their little minds can feel like a nigh-impossible task.
However, with the right knowledge, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
It turns out that there’s a lot of signs that babies give off, both in their body language and behavior, which can let us know how they’re feeling – if, of course, we are able to read these signs; many of which appear to be something else entirely.
So, to help you understand your little angel better, we’ve compiled a list of 18 common baby signs and their meanings.
Your baby’s cry
Any parent of a small child will attest to the fact that their cry can vary quite a bit, so instead of guessing what your baby wants, as most of us are prone to do, take a closer look, and you could discover what’s wrong a whole lot quicker.
- Calling cry
The purpose of this cry is to literally call for something.
You’ll know that’s the case if your baby cries for around six seconds, then pauses for around 20.
This is them waiting for a response.
No response from you will get baby frustrated and may result in a continuous cry.
- Pain cry
A pained cry is monotonous, loud, and constant.
It’s also worth noting that if the baby’s pain is increasing, there will be hysterical bursts as it does.
Sometimes, if the pain they are experiencing is particularly draining, it will turn into a whimper as they don’t have the energy to properly cry.
- Hunger cry
It starts out like a calling cry, however, it will turn into hysterics if they aren’t fed. They will also try to express their hunger by turning their heads and using their mouths to make smacking sounds.
- Tired cry
Another problem that babies experience which we grownups can relate to is being very tried but simply being unable to sleep.
When this happens, they will have an irritated and intermittent cry, which is usually accompanied by yawning.
In addition to this, just like with a hungry cry, your baby could physically express the problem by rubbing their eyes and ears.
- Physiological process cry
Even gas, urination, or defecation can initially cause discomfort in a child.
This type of crying resembles whining and squeaking.
- Environmental cry
This is the most difficult cry to understand, in our opinion, because it could represent a number of things.
In short, if your baby isn’t happy about where they are, they will cry to prompt you to move them, or because they’re frustrated and bored.
The noises your baby makes
Australian pediatrician Priscilla Dunstan has been studying and researching early childhood sounds (up to 3-4 months old) for more than 20 years.
Thousands of babies of different nationalities have taken part in her experiments.
Priscilla thinks that primary reflex sounds are international.
After turning 4 months old, babies start to make sounds seeking communication which relate more to physical needs.
The ’dictionary’ of the main sounds includes:
- ’Neh’ – “I’m hungry!”This sound is produced when the baby pushes their tongue up to the roof of their mouth and is triggered by the sucking reflex.
- ’Eh’ – “I’m gonna burp!”This sound is formed when excess air starts to leave the baby’s esophagus and the baby tries to reflexively release it from their mouth.
- ’Owh’– “I’m sleepy or tired!” The baby produces this ’sound of tiredness’ by folding their lips before yawning.
- ’Heh’ – “I’m feeling uncomfortable!”Unpleasant tactile sensations make the baby move and jerk their hands and feet.
All these movements contribute to producing the ’Heh’ sound, especially when the baby’s mouth is slightly opened.
- ’Eairh’ – ’I have gases and pain in my tummy!’ The sounds they make get distorted and turn into a moan when a baby strains their tummy and exhales while trying to get rid of the pain.
Your baby’s movements
Body language says a lot about a baby’s well-being:
- Arching their back
Babies under 2 months old often make this movement when responding to pain and colic.
If a baby arches their back after eating, it means that they are full.
If you often see your baby doing this movement during eating, it can be a sign of reflux.
If the baby is older than 2 months old, this movement usually indicates tiredness and a bad mood.
- Rotating their head
This is a calming movement for the baby. They might do it before falling asleep or when they’re around unknown people.
- Grabbing their ears
In most cases, this movement shows that the baby is just exploring their body. You should consult the doctor only if this movement is followed by crying and repeats often.
- Clenching their fists
This is a sign of hunger. If you manage to notice it in time, you can prevent the crying caused by them being hungry.
- Lifting their legs
This is the sign of colic and tummy pain. The baby is trying to reflexively ease the pain.
- Jerking their arms
This movement means that the baby got frightened. A loud sound, bright light, or sudden awakening can provoke the startle reflex. In this case, the baby needs to be comforted.
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