Decode Your Baby’s Language: 11 Cues Every Mom Should Know

You’ve given birth, and the experience was amazing. But now you’re stuck with a child who is giving you baby cues that are more confusing than what a man wants for dinner. It’s a lot of fun to try and decode these cues, and I will warn you ahead of time – it gets addicting, too.

I know many women that have stayed up all night trying to figure out why their baby is turning their head side to side, or if their frowning baby is really sad or just making faces.

You don’t have to be clueless to your child’s wants and needs.

I’m going to discuss a few cues and what they mean so that you can meet the needs and wants of your baby without fail.

[Read more about Baby]

1. Smiling

A smile is a good thing, and this will first start 6 – 8 weeks after birth. A baby who smiles is content, and this is a time when you can pat yourself on the back and realize you’re a good parent. But don’t get comfortable for too long. Babies will change cues quickly, leaving you scratching your head not knowing what to do.

2. Face-maker

I’m not entirely sure why babies make faces, but they seem to do it a lot. These subtle faces can be a brief frown or a wrinkled forehead that, when an adult does it, often means confusion or a person deep in thought.

Subtle by nature, these cues give us little insight into what our babies are thinking.

The best you can do is catch these funny moments and laugh.

3. Mom: Stop Looking at Me

A baby rubbing her eyes is one thing, but when parents see their babies try and avoid their glance, they often get upset and even offended. You have to take the baby’s view into account. Not only are you huge compared to a baby, but they’re still developing and are often very tired.

If you overstimulate your child or simply overwhelm the child, he or she will try to break eye contact.

Sometimes, babies will start playing with anything but their parents. This is a time when you’ll need to be the adult and give your child the space he or she needs.

They’ll turn back to you when they’re not overstimulated.

4. The Baby Copycat

Babies can be jokesters, and when they’re 3 – 6 months of age, they’ll start mimicking mom or dad. This phenomenon is hilarious because they’ll make surprised, sad or fearful faces, copying your every expression along the way.

And if your expression says you’re distressed, don’t be surprised if your baby follows up with a crying fit.

What many parents don’t know is that this copycat session does have an impact on the child. You’ll want to smile if the baby sees you in distress or hug and comfort the child to let them know everything is okay.

Copycat games are a ton of fun with your child.

5. Ear or Eye Rubbing

If you notice your baby touching her ear or rubbing her eyes, what does this signify? For a moment, picture an adult rubbing his eyes followed by a yawn. Yup, the adult is tired and so is your baby.

Ears are a sort of “discovery” for babies, and they may rub and play with their ears just because they like the new feeling or sensation.

Any rubbing of this nature or even a baby rubbing face, means it’s time to put your baby down for a nap.

But there is one concern.

If the baby is playing with her ear and is fussy, you’ll want to check her temperature. There’s a chance that your baby has a fever or ear infection, and this is something to alert your doctor of quickly. An ear infection is accompanied by a fever, so make sure to check your baby’s temperature before freaking out too much.

6. Back Arching

I can’t express the initial fear of a newborn arching her back and screaming. The automatic reaction of most parents is to think that there is something vitally wrong with their child, and it can begin quickly after birth. This is one of the baby cues that are seen with discomfort.

You may also notice a baby arching back while eating, and this is a sign that they’re done eating.

What does all of this mean for you?

Simple. Change the baby’s position.

And when your baby starts showing signs of arching at 4 – 5 months, this may mean that she’s trying to roll over for the first time. There is cause for concern if the baby doesn’t arch her back from time to time. This lack of arching could be a sign of baby arching back developmental delay – an issue where the baby can’t express her discomfort.

If you notice a baby arching her back while sleeping, remember that she can’t turn over for quite some time. A simple solution is to reposition the child so that she can find a nice, comfortable spot to relax.

[Read more about Baby’s Position]

7. Crying Fits

Every baby is a cry baby, and this is nothing to get mad about. Crying is the baby’s way of saying: “Hey, I need something.” Babies will cry when they’re:

  • Hungry (short and low-pitched)
  • Feeling pain (continuous and long)
  • Tired (soft and distressed)

You’ll need to judge your baby’s cues at this time to help meet her needs. Obviously, feed a hungry baby, put a tired baby to sleep and find a way to relieve the pain if a baby is in pain.

8. Rooting Reflex

A neat trick that many mothers don’t know until it’s too late is touching the cheek of the baby to get them to turn their head to feed. This natural reflex will be used to turn your baby’s head when nursing.

But again, this is a short-lived reflex.

9. Jerking or Startle Cues

Babies are new to the world, and they will get startled easily, too. When a baby throws her head back or quickly spreads her arms and legs only to jerk them back and cry, they’re startled. A lot of triggers can startle a baby before the age of 3 – 6 months, including:

  • Uncontrolled head movement
  • Lights
  • Loud noises

Try and comfort your baby if she exhibits these cues.

10. Laughing and Babbling

One of the most memorable moments in a parent’s life is the moment they hear their baby babbling or laughing. These moments occurs between the 4 – 6 month range, and most parents won’t be able to control their own laughing at this time.

Babies are trying to learn how to use their vocal cords at this time.

And it sounds a lot like they’re talking to themselves, which, in theory, they are. These expressive babbles may also be a sign that your baby is mad, sad, happy or a variety of different things. The baby will start to show her personality through this laughing and babbling, so pay close attention when she does.

These little conversations should be encouraged.

Speak to your child, ask her to mimic your voice, and continue to help your child develop her vocal cords at this time.

I even suggest recording these funny baby cues – they’re everlasting memories.

[Read more about Everlasting Memories]

11. Face or Head Scratching

Every time a baby scratches her face, a parent giggles inside. And even a baby scratching her head can be so cute that all you want to do is squeeze and love her. The good news is that the baby is either itchy or the baby is playing with new sensations.

If you’ve introduced a new fabric or are using a new clothes cleaner, there’s a chance that your child may be allergic to this new substance.

So, keep a close eye on your child to check for rashes and ensure that new fabrics do not cause too much irritation from scratching.

Baby cues are fun to experience, and they’re a form of communication that a new mother and father will quickly learn to master.