Babies may not be able to speak, but they are born ready to communicate with you. In the beginning, their movements and cries may seem to occur with no particular pattern. In time, you will notice that these have a meaning and this is how they are trying to communicate with you.
It takes time to get to know your baby and their cues, and this is where baby massage can be of great help. It provides the opportunity to really focus on each another and allows you to become attuned to their cues. When you read their cues and are therefore able to respond quickly to their needs, babies feel more relaxed, secure and cared for. And asides from having a more content baby (and, therefore, more content parent) the parent-child bond is strengthened.
This is your baby’s most effective way of communicating as it is sure to get your attention! If you listen carefully to their cries you will begin to notice subtle differences.
Remember to always go back to basics when deciphering cries. If your baby hasn’t fed for a while, they are likely to be hungry, if they have been awake for several hours, it is more than likely that it is a sleepy cry. Each of these are likely to elicit a cry.
Under the headings below are some of the things to look and listen out for in order to help you to decipher your baby’s cry.
Babies can often be hungry after waking up and can instantly start to cry for food. It's normally a short, low-pitched cry. But if you don't respond by feeding them quickly, the cry can become more loud and intense. You’ll soon learn to read their hungry cry!
You will also notice that your baby will start to ‘root’. The rooting reflex is essential for survival, as it helps baby to find food. When your baby is hungry your baby may turn their head strongly to one side while opening their mouth. They may also suck on their hands/fingers, or anything they can get hold of!
If your baby is in pain or discomfort they can start crying, arch their backs or fuss or seem agitated. They may also have more subtle ways of telling you such as becoming pale or red in the face, looking away or losing interest in interaction. If they are in pain with wind, they may also screw their face up and pull knees up to their stomach or kick their legs.
A pain cry comes on quite suddenly. It tends to be a longer and continuous cry with a constant pitch. When they are in pain or discomfort, try to methodically go through a checklist in your head whilst trying to comfort them. Do they need their nappy changed? Are they too hot/cold? Do they have something pinching their skin or lying on something uncomfortable? Do they have wind?
You will notice that when your baby starts to get tired, they will begin to rub their eyes and ears. If they become overtired they may start getting restless and start to cry. A tired cry can often be similar to a pain cry but a lower pitch.
When your baby is feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated, they will break eye contact and turn their face away from you. They may also start to yawn, push you away, start to fuss or cry, sneeze or even hiccup! Always allow your baby to rest and wait until they turn back to you.
When your baby wants to play/interact with you, they will look at you with wide eyes, study your face and follow your movements. They may also reach out to you, smile and perhaps open their mouth into an "oo" shape or coo/babble to call you. Remember that when they are little, your face and voice are their favourite things!