Baby Communication: Tuning in to Your Baby

As parents, we are taught by the midwives in the hospital and our MCH nurses how to look after our babies, but not necessarily how to communicate with them, or tune in to their communication cues.

We are taught to feed them when they cry, if they are due for a feed, or change their nappy, or give them a cuddle. But it isn’t necessarily around tuning in to your baby, it’s more about choosing from a range on options and hoping one of them might soothe them. By tuning in to the sound of their cry, you will learn to identify what they need. But there are also other non-verbal cues that babies use to communicate with their care giver.

By making an effort to tune in to your baby’s non-verbal cues, you will deepen your bonding and attachment experience. Here are a few things to look for to help you get to know your baby better.

Engagement Cues

These cues suggest your baby is seeking your positive attention and is a good time to play, read to them, or talk with them.

  • Gurgling or cooing
  • Smiling
  • Babbling
  • Raised eye brows
  • Wide eyes
  • Reaching for care-giver
  • Opening their hands.

Disengagement Cues

These are cues that show your baby might be ready for a nap, or just some quiet time.

  • Crawling away
  • Unhappy crying
  • Faster breathing
  • Hand to ear
  • Leg kicking
  • Lip compression.

These cues are more subtle so can be harder to pick up on. But it is worth trying to tune in to them. If you miss these cues, your baby will try harder to show you what they need, which may result in excessive crying.

Talking to Your Baby

Talk to your baby as often as you can. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand, your talking is the building blocks of their language development. Look into their eyes, sing to them; show them that you are tuned in to them. The inevitable affect is a deep and enduring bond. If you feel strange talking to your baby, here are a few tips to help:

  • Don’t over think it
  • Consider it ‘thinking out loud’
  • Narrate your day by by telling them what you are doing, whether it’s changing their nappy, cooking dinner, folding laundry – it’s all worth sharing with them.
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