The most frustrating thing that parents experience perhaps, is trying to understand what message their baby is trying to convey through its behavior. Communication can be difficult and might feel daunting or downright impossible until your child is at an age where they can speak.
But understanding what your baby wants or needs isn’t as impossible as it may seem. Aside from crying and laughing, there are multiple signs babies give that their parents may not understand or take seriously.
Assuming what your baby’s cries, sounds, and gestures really mean is not the solution. Here are several helpful ways to take the guesswork out of communication. A lot of parents out there will agree that tuning into these cries can lead to more restless nights and happier babies.
When baby is Crying for hunger
Listen closely for a low-pitched, rhythmic, repetitive cry, combined with other signals to identify if the baby is hungry or not. Before launching into a full-throated hunger wail your baby will wake up and move around in the crib restless. He may move his mouth and smack his lips. The baby will also make faces and raise his hands to it to suck the fist and fingers.
During early days when you stroke your baby’s cheek, their natural reflex will be to turn assuming it’s towards the bottle or breast when hungry, after 4 months, rather than a reflex rooting becomes a voluntary action.
Opening his mouth while feeding translates to “more please!”
A hungry baby may not let go and continue to show interest in sucking even after finishing the first breast or bottle. For this, the baby may also smile and indicate hunger.
When baby is Tired and exhausted
Grizzling and crying child means it is tired, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between tired and hungry grizzling.
If your baby has had a feed recently and is still yearning and cranky, she’s probably tired. To be sure offer a feed. If it takes only a little milk and is still moody, she probably needs a sleep. If your child is tired, you might see some of the following tired signs:
- pulling at their ears
- closing or clenching fists
- fluttering eyelids – your baby might even go cross-eyed or stare into space
- babies rub their eyes to show the urge to sleep too
- Jerking arms and legs or arching backwards
- frowning and looking worried
- sucking on fingers – this could be a good sign and might mean that your baby is trying to settle to sleep
When boredom strikes They are in pain
A baby, who is sick and feeling pain, often cries in an urgent and high-pitched tone. They might squeeze their eyes shut, grimace or wrinkle their brow.
Depending on what’s causing the pain, your baby might move their arms and legs around might be squirmy. With arms and legs either stretched out or pulled in, if they are stiff and tense it means they are in pain.
Also, if your baby is be cranky and restless, and not be interested in sleeping and is not even hungry and turning away from milk and food, it is probably because something is troubling them and making them uncomfortable.
The sick cry
Babies get sick at times, and often it’s nothing much to worry about. Still, trusting your instincts is gravely important. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s doctor.
Weak and soft whimpering, with a lower pitch than the in pain or overtired cry or nasal soundings usually indicate that your baby is sick. The low pitch is as if the baby doesn’t have the energy to pump up its volume.
If you suspect your baby is sick, stay aware and lookout for additional symptoms that warrant a call to the doctor, for example fever, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, rashes or anything else that seems out-of-the-ordinary for your baby. There’s no depressing cry that tugs harder at a parents heartstrings than this one.
When you can’t really find a reason for crying
Sometimes, a baby’s cry seems entirely unrelated to basic needs. In fact, according to a study around eighty to ninety percent of all babies have crying sessions of 15 minutes to an hour that can not be easily decoded or explained and hence are left unattended at times.
Mostly, these crying sessions happen in the evening. It may be the most hectic and stressful time of day for mothers or others at the home: everyone is tired and everyone is hungry and a mom’s milk supply may be at its lowest level at this time of the day.
Everyone is basically just done, done, done, and that goes for baby too. It may also be that after a busy day of processing and taking in all the sounds, sights and other stimuli in her environment, babies just need to unwind with a good cry. Crying for a few minutes may help your child unburden herself and help her nod off to sleep.
Keep in mind that your baby may also cry if it’s too hot or cold, if it’s lonely and needs attention or if she needs a change of environment and scenery, wants to move around, or if she just needs to let it all out.