Unlike an older child that can use their words and gestures, babies have to rely on cries and cues to communicate.
Responding effectively to your baby’s body language could relieve them of pain and distress. It will also give them a sense of security and help strengthen your relationship with them. A loving bond with a parent is the foundation for cognitive and emotional development.
Smiling – If your baby is smiling, it generally means they are happy. Babies begin to experience emotion around the age of 6 weeks.
Crying – Babies cry to communicate, not to annoy or upset you. They are either hungry, uncomfortable, in pain, frustrated, lonely, overstimulated or bored. More on that.
Kicking their legs – Often times when babies kick rapidly, it is an indication that they are overstimulated and need some quiet time. Some babies kick because it’s fun and the kicks are often accompanied with a smile. If your baby is hot they may be kicking off a blanket (more info on SIDS).
Yawning and Sneezing – Yawning is related to the autonomic nervous system and doesn’t always mean your child is bored or tired. Sneezing may also be involuntary and not always a sign that your baby is sick.
Sucking on their fingers – Babies suck on their fingers to indicate hunger or to self-soothe. It is common for babies to put their fingers and other objects in their mouths as a way of exploring the world around them.
Grimacing or grunting – A sign your baby may have gas or needs to poop.
Tugging their ears – In youngers babies this is a sign that they are overstimulated and trying to self soothe. In slightly older babies it may be a sign of illness and/or an ear infection.
Rubbing their eyes – A sign that your baby is either tired or stressed and needs to be relaxed. It may be a sign that dirt is trapped in their eye.
Arched back – This is a sign of absolute frustration and an indication that they do not want to do what you are making them do.
Tongue sticking out – A primitive reflex in babies that goes away at around six months. For toddlers, it’s a sign of being engrossed in an activity.
If you feel like we have missed something, do let us know via our contact form.
Our guide outlines the facts based on research from several online and offline resources. If you are in doubt or worried about your child or their health for any reason, consult with a qualified medical care provider or doctor.