Baby body language
While crying is the universal baby language, your newborn has other ways of communicating with you that his body and facial expressions. If you pay attention and learn to read his signals, you’ll discover that he’s telling you all sorts of things.
Look for the following body language:
- ‘I’m sleepy’ - Slow eye blinking, yawning, putting fists up to the eyes.
- ‘I’m hungry’ - Opening his mouth.
- ‘I’m alert and ready to play!’ - Making sharp body movements, along with wide eyes.
- ‘No’ – Arching of the back, turning the head away and no eye contact.
How can I encourage communication through baby body language?
- Watch your baby. From a very early age, your baby will be watching you and trying to get your attention. One of the first and best ways he will do this is with his big gummy smiles. So when he flashes a grin at you, return the smile – after all, a smile says a thousand words!
- Watch how your baby moves her limbs. Different babies have different sensitivities. Some startle easily - sun in his eyes, the cat running past or a loud noise from the street – while others are blissfully unaware that a loud truck has just rumbled past. If your baby startles easily, work at finding methods to reassure him.
- Learn to recognise his various moods. Your baby will act differently depending on whether he’s wide awake and alert, crying, or fussing. If you pay attention to his various moods, you’ll become familiar with them and be better able to predict your baby’s patterns.
- Talk to him when he’s alert. Even the most squally of babies will have a quiet, alert period every day. Take this opportunity to talk to your baby using lots of facial expressions. You’ll find that he’ll ‘listen’ to what you have to say and may start making little facial expressions back.
- Learn to tell when your baby is tired. Catching your baby as he grows tired can be a bit of a fine art but if you watch for droopy eyelids and slow blinking, stiff and jerky movements, whining and irritability, you’ll be able to shuffle him off to bed.
- Always respond to his efforts to communicate. Long before your baby learns to talk, he will start experimenting with sounds as a way to communicate. Try to reciprocate when he ‘talks’ to you, and you’ll find that before too long you’ll be having ‘conversations’ together.
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