Baby Cues and What They Mean

Only a mother best understands her child. A child speaks in an unclear language that hardly anyone understands. It is the mother, the best friend that can interpret such an unknown language. No wonder they say life does not come with a manual; it comes with a mother. She is the solution provider for a child\’s needs. There is usually no substitute for her.

As a baby grows, he or she makes several signs that meant different things. Take, for instance, when a baby is crying, it\’s either the child is hungry or needs a diaper change. All these are baby\’s cues. They are several ways a child communicates his or her needs. Not everyone understands these cues, but a mother does.

There are different baby cues and the way they interact differs from one another. But with time, you get to understand what those interactions mean. As the child continues to grow, the cues become clearer by doing a lot of baby watching.

What is the importance of understanding a baby cue?

When you understand your baby\’s signals, you are helping you and the baby. Caring for your baby\’s needs becomes more comfortable. The benefits of understanding a baby\’s cue cannot be overemphasized. They include (but not limited to):

1. It helps your baby to develop a sense of trust in her ability as regarding influence on the environment.

2. A secure bond will be formed between mother and child.

3. Baby cues are essential prerequisites to relationships and emotional development.

4. When you understand and respond to your baby\’s cue, you teach him or her emotional regulation. It enables them to realize that they have control over their emotions. Take, for instance, when your baby is crying, and you soothe her, she tends to calm down (emotion regulation).

Read Also: How to help your baby burp

How do you interact with your baby when she makes specific cues?

Once you have learned to read and understand your baby\’s cue, you will be better able to respond to their needs. When your baby makes cue, how do you interact?

  1. Hold her hand
  2. Feed her
  3. Change her diaper
  4. Give her a bath
  5. Talk or sing a song for her
  6. Gently place your hand on her tummy while you allow her to grab your finger

Types of baby cues

  1. I am hungry. A baby suddenly doesn\’t end up crying when they are hungry. They give signs like sucking on their fists, making sucking sounds with their mouths, making little noises, etc. All these subtle cues show that they are ready to feed. Once these cues are ignored, they end up crying, which is a late hunger cue.
  2. Could you play with me? When your baby\’s eyes are bright and wide, they show they are ready to play. A baby sleeps a lot, and because of that, they have little time to play. As they grow older, they have more time to play, and their signals become more explicit. Your child may also turn towards you at the sound of your voice or look at your face. She then begins to move the arms and legs ready for play. She might also grab hold of your finger or even pause her small lips as if she\’s communicating. If you respond to her, she will smile, babble, and make eye contact. All these cues show that your baby needs you to play with her.
  3. I need a break. A baby gives a clear disengaging signal that she\’s tired or needs a stop from the activity ongoing. When your baby looks away or turns head towards another side, kicks or squirms, coughs, spits up, or aches back, she shows that she needs a break. All these are stop signals. Other tiring, break, or a change in activity includes yawning, wrinkling of the forehead, frowning, or hiccups. Your baby may start to cry, fuss, or make thrashing movements when trying to tell you to stop playing, but you insisted.
  4. I want to sleep, or I am sleepy. We all like sleep, and we don\’t like to be disturbed when we are craving for rest. By the time your baby starts showing sleepy signs like yawning, keeping quiet, fussing, rubbing eyes and ears, clenching fists into tight balls, frowning, becoming still, and knotting of eyebrows, making of jerky movements, lost of interest in toys and people, etc. Gently put your baby to bed rather than waiting for her to sleep off completely. Once you observe these signs and abide by it, your baby will sleep comfortably without stressing yourself. If you missed these cues, your baby might become grumpy or excited and find it difficult to settle.
  5. I am warm, cold, or needs to be carried. When your baby is crying and fussing, they might probably be warm or cold. You need to check their temperature to see if you need to change their dress or wear another one to it. Because babies can\’t regulate their body temperature, they need to be worn double clothes than you. That does not mean you should overheat them. Always check their temperature and ensure it is fit for that moment. At times, they might be the only one left in the room and no one around them; they start crying. They need people around, and carrying them at that moment will be super dope for them.
  6. I am full. When your baby no longer shows interest in the food, spit out food, push the feeding bottle away, removes mouth from sucking your breast, closes mouth, turns head away, or eats slowly. All these show that your baby is full, and you need to stop feeding at this point.
  7. I am distressed. If you noticed that your baby is frowning, making jerky movements, making sounds, or turning red on the face, it might mean your baby is distressed. You will need to comfort and attend to her needs to know what she wants.

Read Also: Ways to put your baby to sleep quickly

All these signs differ in babies. As you play and nurse your baby, you will begin to observe these cues and understand what each means. All you need do is to take your time to study the diverse ways your baby communicates. By the time you spend more time watching and being present around your baby, you will become used to these baby cues and understand what they mean. In return, you will be able to respond in ways that best suit your baby.

Read more

11 Reasons Babies Cry and How to Soothe Them

It is no news that babies cry to communicate their emotions. The only way they express hunger, sleepiness, discomfort, or feelings of not feeling well is through crying and fussiness. In the early days of birth, you might not be able to differentiate between the various reasons for crying, but as times go on, you can tell when it\’s a cry for food or a call to be put down to sleep.

We will be discussing some reasons why babies cry and possible ways to soothe them. Maybe you can see and understand why your baby cries.

  1. Hunger
  2. Tiredness
  3. Sleep
  4. Pain
  5. Wet or soiled diapers
  6. Feeling hot or cold
  7. Overstimulation
  8. Tears for toys
  9. Cry for attention
  10. Colic and stomach upset
  11. Teething

1. Hunger

Most newborns don\’t start wailing the moment they are hungry; they show signs. And when food is not fort coming, then the cry begins. Newborns learn to store milk in their mouth from when they are two weeks old. You see them chewing the curdled milk first before they start to cry for food. Other signs babies present are sucking their fingers, lip-smacking, fussiness, and turning towards the breast of whoever is holding them, always opening their mouth. As your baby grows, he will be more specific in the quest for food.

SOOTHE THEM: Give your baby food when he shows the signs. You might be tired of his constant sucking. It might mean he isn\’t getting enough milk either because he isn\’t latching well or there isn\’t enough milk supply. Find help for him to get enough milk.

2. Tiredness

Many people don\’t know that babies get tired from being carried and played with. Sometimes they just want to lie on their bed and play by themselves. I remembered one morning when my mom was holding my baby, and she wasn\’t able to calm her down when she started crying. She called me thinking she wanted to feed, but my baby wouldn\’t suck. After some time, I put her down, and she stopped crying instantly and was happy. She played by herself till she slept off. That was when I learned that babies could be tired of being carried.

SOOTHE THEM: Place your baby in her bed or cot and create a conducive atmosphere for him to relax.

3. Sleep time

Many babies cry when they are about to sleep until they are a year old. If you have ever wondered like me why babies have to cry when they feel sleepy when sleep isn\’t a bad thing. Babies love all that is happening around them and don\’t want to miss out on any. They battle with sleep, and since most babies can\’t settle themselves to sleep, it causes the fussiness.

SOOTHE THEM: Feed or rock your baby to sleep. Take him away from noise and visitors that might disturb his sleep.

4. Pain and not feeling well

Babies feel pain too, and because they can\’t express it in words, they cry. If you can\’t understand your baby\’s cry, remove the sock and feel the sole of her feet. If it is cold, then your baby might be having a headache. Babies experience abdominal pain when the umbilical cord falls off, and the navel is healing. Flu or cold could make your baby fussy and cry, especially at the onset, when you can\’t see a running nose yet.

SOOTHE THEM: You can give your baby acetaminophen or paracetamol for infants and toddlers. For the navel, soak a washcloth or clean white towel in not too hot water and press the navel till the baby finds relief. Check his temperature and nasal drops to help with the nose block. Humidifiers could help when your baby has a stuffy nose and can\’t breathe well.

5. Wet or Soiled Diapers

This one is easy to check. Most babies cry immediately they poo in their diapers or are soaked from their urine. I can remember my baby smile every time I removed her diapers. I felt like she was saying thank you. But some babies don\’t mind staying in their soiled diaper for some time.

SOOTHE THEM: Removing the diapers and cleaning them up will calm the baby down

6. Feeling hot and cold

You might have been told that babies don\’t feel hot or cold. One thing I know for sure is that babies like proper ventilation. It is safe to keep babies warm, but when they are wrapped in various layers of clothes and blanket, they can feel hot, and they will cry from heat. When they are exposed to cold, they can feel chilly and cry, asking to be covered up. Every baby has the degree of warmth they appreciate.

SOOTHE THEM: Understand what your baby likes. Remove extra wrap or clothing on your baby.

7. Overstimulation

While my first baby liked to be backed or held with a baby carrier, my second baby cried whenever she was backed or in a baby carrier. But she loved the swing. Some babies cry when there is so much noise around them or when they are held in a position they are not comfortable in.

SOOTHE THEM: Change the baby\’s position, reduce the noise, or kill the source of the sound.

8. Cry for attention

Babies like to be held, cuddled, cared for, and spend time with their mother. At such times you will find that your baby will be relaxed just staying in your arms

SOOTHE THEM: Hold your baby and sway from side to side, sit down and cuddle your little one. Look into your baby\’s eyes and say beautiful things to him.

9. Tears for toys

If your baby has older siblings, he is likely going to be crying for their toys when he is about six months or older. Your baby could also be looking for things to play with.

SOOTHE THEM: Get your baby age-grade toys that are handy and safe. You should also consider getting a playmat for your baby.

10. Colic, Constipation, and stomach upset

Acid reflux or gas in the stomach isn\’t easy for adults. You can imagine how uncomfortable it can make a baby cry uncontrollably for three hours stretch or more and might not be able to fall asleep. The condition known as colic in babies has to do with stomach upset from gas, which might be because of lactose intolerance or something in the mother\’s breastmilk, which came from what she ate. There are certain herbs and spices a nursing mother shouldn\’t eat in her food because they can upset the baby\’s stomach and can also cause constipation. Some babies don\’t do well with dairy in their mother\’s breastmilk. Doctors might tell you it is normal that your baby hasn\’t gone to the toilet for four days as long as he is farting. That is what they told me. But I knew my baby was suffering until I did something about it.

SOOTHE THEM: help your baby burp after every feeding. If he is suffering from constipation, help your baby pass out the poop. Also, give your baby tummy time, it could settle him for a while.

11. Teething

Teething brings some level of discomfort and pain to babies, and different babies handle it differently.

SOOTHE THEM: check the gums for swelling or hotness. Give analgesics to help with the pain. Get teething toys. Read here how to handle your baby\’s teething

Read more