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7 Important Baby Cues Every Parent Needs to Know

Newborn tip: Use baby’s hands as a guide to how full she is!

From the minute your baby is born, each of their senses – hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, and tasting work together to form a complete picture of what’s going on around them. Although they couldn’t speak yet, they actually can tell you something with every little action that they do.

Unfortunately for parents, none of them speak baby. However, it is important for every parent to be able to read the baby’s body language, and here are seven communication clues to decode them.

1. Communication Clue: Arching Back

When your baby arches their backs, it may be a reaction to pain, and heartburn is the most likely culprit.

If a baby does so in the middle of a feed, it may mean that they do 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.

Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., and the author of Baby 411 said:

“As the stomach acid comes up into the esophagus in the middle of the chest, a baby will arch her back to try to relieve the discomfort.”

Another very common reason for arching their backs by older infants is when they are frustrated, angry or tired.

If the crying persists, consult a Pediatrician immediately.

2. Communication Clue: Constant Kicking

Claire McCarthy, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School at Children’s Hospital Boston, said:

“If she seems happy and smiley, it’s probably a sign that she wants to play.”

But if the baby is fussy, there’s a high chance that something is bothering them.

“It could be anything from gas to a dirty diaper to a cramped car seat, so do a quick once-over to see what might be bugging her.”

3. Communication Clue: Head-Banging

Catherine Nelson, M.D., a pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, said:

“Babies find the rhythmic back-and-forth motion soothing.”

However, this habit is not all playful. Dr. Brown noted that;

“If your baby bangs his head for long periods of time instead of engaging with others or playing with his toys, then you should bring it to your pediatrician’s attention at a checkup.”

Take note that most kids give up this behavior by age three.

4. Communication Clue: Grabbing Ears

Grabbing their ears doesn’t necessarily mean that they have some ear infection or anything related to that.

Dr. Nelson said:

“Many parents jump to that conclusion, but most of the time your baby has just realized that she has ears.”

Dr. Brown also shared that babies pulling their ears also possible means that they’re teething, notably when the one-year molars are coming in.

5. Communication Clue: Clenched Fist

Clenching of the fist is a sign that the baby is extremely stressed out due to hunger. In case you see your baby doing so, even if they are not crying, your obvious response should be to feed them immediately.

S. Michelle Long, a certified baby nurse in New York City, said:

“I find that when babies are very hungry, they tense up all over.”

6. Communication Clue: Scrunched-Up Knees

The sign of a baby folding their knees towards their stomach means that they have some digestive problems like constipation, gas or stomach uneasiness.

Dr. Nelson said:

“This position is usually a sign of abdominal discomfort, either from having gas, passing a bowel movement, or being constipated.”

Try to ease their pain by helping them to burp by slowly and gently patting their back. If the sign persists, consult a Pediatrician.

7. Communication Clue: Arm Jerks

This gesture means that the baby got startled by some loud noise, bright light, or sudden movement. To avoid this, try to block all the outside noise or swaddle them for naps and bedtime.

The arm jerks usually disappear after three or four months.

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