Decoding Baby’s Body Language – What’s Your Child Trying to Say

Decoding Baby's Body Language

From the very first cry, your baby starts to communicate with you. For the first few days, she will only cry to let people know that she is hungry, sleepy, uncomfortable, anxious etc. As she grows, she starts communicating through body language. But, as a parent how do you understand what your baby is trying to tell?

Understanding Your Baby’s Different Body Language Cues

As a new parent, understanding a newborn’s body language is difficult. However, it is important for every parent to be able to read the baby’s body language. When your baby is a few months old, understanding infant body language isn’t that difficult. Listed below is a quick guide to body language cues of a baby.

1. Kicking Legs In the Air

This is one of the first sign that your baby is trying to communicate with you.

What Does It Mean

If you see your baby doing so, then it means that she is very excited and happy. The excitement could be on seeing you or something that fascinates her like water, her favourite toy or even her food bowl (if she is hungry).

How to Respond

Kicking in the air will help your baby to develop the muscles that will help her in crawling. Therefore, encourage her to kick her legs in the air by getting the things that excite her.

2. Turning her Face Away

You may be feeding her or trying to talk to her, but she just wouldn’t look at you. Do you suppose your baby is ignoring you or is angry with you?

What Does It Mean

This could mean two things. First, she may just try to process as to what is happening or what is going on in her surrounding or she could be angry with you for intruding into her personal space.

How to Respond

Just let her be, for a while. Allow her to explore. Probably she has seen a lizard on the wall and is curious to know what it is or is simply amazed to see a reflection of herself in the mirror. Once she has satiated her curiosity, she will get back to you.

Baby Turning her Face Away

3. Arching Her Back

Some babies may arch their backs while being fed or while being held. There can be many reasons for a baby to do so.

What Does It Mean

If a baby does so in the middle of a feed, it may mean that she does not want to be fed any longer. It could also mean that the baby has colic or suffers from digestive disorders like GERD or acid reflux. Another very common reason for arching their backs by older infants is when they are frustrated, angry or tired.

At times, babies suffering from Autism, Rumination disorder or Kernicterus are also seen arching their backs.

How to Respond

Just try to calm her down. You can divert her attention by taking her outside and showing her things which she would be interested in. You can even pat her back slowly or rock her so that in case she is sleepy. If the crying persists, consult a Paediatrician immediately.

4. Stretching Out Arms

Babies with outstretched arms with open hands and fingers are a good sign.

What Does It Mean

It means that your little munchkin is happy and in a good mood. However, it can also be that the baby has newly acquired the skill of sitting and is trying to balance herself while trying to sit up straight.

How to Respond

Both of you should enjoy the moment. Take her to a park or for a walk. You can also go about your rare shopping sprees on these days when she is in a good mood. She will enjoy absorbing the new things that she comes across, and you will get some time for retail therapy.

In case, the outstretched arms are to balance herself while trying to sit, give her a hand. Otherwise, you can surround her with a lot of soft pillows and cushions so that even if she loses balance, she may not hurt herself.

Baby Stretching Out Arms

5. Fist Clenching

The baby may be seen doing this with or without crying.

What Does It Mean

Clenching of the fist is a sign that the baby is extremely stressed out due to hunger.

How to Respond

In case you see your baby doing so (even if he is not crying), your obvious response should be to feed your baby immediately.

6. Baby Folding Her Knees

Babies sometimes can be seen folding both their knees and bringing it towards their stomach.

What Does It Mean

The sign of a baby folding her knees towards her stomach means that she has some kind of digestive problems like constipation, gas or stomach uneasiness.

How to Respond

Try to ease her up by helping her to burp by slowly and gently patting her back. In case you are nursing her, avoid oily and spicy food which may cause her gas, acid reflux, constipation or gas. If the sign persists, consult a Paediatrician.

Baby folding her knees

7. Grabbing Ears

It is usually done by babies when they are trying to explore their body parts, but it could mean something else too.

What Does This Mean

Apart from exploring her ears, it can be a sign of pain and discomfort due to an ear infection. It is also seen that babies during teething do this.

How to Respond

If in case they are not teething, you can take your little one to a Paediatric ENT specialist for a thorough check-up.

8. Rubbing of Eyes

Rubbing of eyes may often be followed by a big yawn and sometimes even crying.

What Does It Mean

It simply means that she is tired and wants to sleep.

How to Respond

Just rock her for some time or pat her slowly, and she will quickly doze off. If she is crying, you can start by singing to her to calm her down first. In case she is not sleepy, you can check if she has acquired an eye infection and also consult a Paediatrician.

Baby Rubbing her eyes

9. Banging Her Head

Headbanging is common among babies and nothing to worry about. It is more common among male babies than female ones.

What Does It Mean

It may look scary, and parents may get disturbed seeing their baby banging his head, but it is nothing more than a technique that babies use to comfort or self-stimulate themselves. At times, it could mean that the baby is in pain.

How to Respond

If your baby has a habit of banging his head, make sure that he is not near a wall. If he bangs his head against the railings of his crib, get the railings padded or cushioned. You can also divert his attention by reading a story to him, singing something to him or playing with him. You can consult a Paediatrician to ascertain that he is not in pain.

10. Startling

A baby getting startled while being fast asleep is a common thing. It is nothing to be worried about. It is a reflex which is quite common among babies before they are 5-6 months old.

What Does It Mean

This can mean that she got startled by some loud noise or something which disturbed her sleep.

How to Respond

Try to block all the outside noise. Making your baby sleep with some noise in the room like keeping the television or radio’s volume normal or talking over the phone may get her used to it.

Baby Startling

11. Kicking and Breathing Quickly

Just as we adults want to do something when excited, babies kick and breath fast when they are too excited.

What Does It Mean

It simply means that she is happy and excited about something. It can be due to something or someone that she has seen or a result of being able to do something that she wants to do.

How to Respond

On seeing your baby excited, “baby talk” with her. Play with her and respond her back with equal enthusiasm.

12. Sucking Fingers

Finger or fist sucking by a baby may often be interpreted as the baby being hungry, but it may not always be so.

What Does It Mean

If your baby’s not hungry, it could also mean that your baby is trying to soothe herself in order before dozing off.

How to Respond

Firstly check if it is time for her feed. In case, it isn’t then you can just sing to her and give her a gentle pat to put her to sleep.

Sucking Fingers

Understanding your baby’s body language is the first thing that you should learn as a parent. It will not only help you to nurture her better but will also help to create a strong bond between you and your little one.

Also Read: Stages of Emotional Development in Infants