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A Guide To Reading Your Baby's Expressions And Signals

Much before your baby learns how to speak, he is already trying to communicate with you. Since they can’t use words yet, they make use of hand gestures and cute facial expressions to let you know how they feel. You might feel like they only have two expressions - relaxed or crying - but if you observe closely, you will realise that they are more expressive than you thought.

Being able to read their expressions will help you avoid a possible tantrum. You can spot if your baby is facing any discomfort, feeling sleepy, bored or just overwhelmed by looking at their face. If you observe body movements, you can tell if they are hungry or facing any pain or discomfort.

Here is how you can tell what your baby wants:

1. Looking away

If your baby looks away from you while you are trying to play with him/her, it simply means that they are feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed. Don’t try to win their attention back right then and there - let them be for a while. They might just need a break from adult interaction for a while. When they are ready to play again, they will turn towards you again.

2. Arching back

When a baby arches his/her back, it is an indication that s/he is in discomfort. The baby may need a change of position. If the arching is accompanied by crying, then it means that the baby has gas or acid reflux. So when your baby arches his/her back, lift them up and pat their back. This should help burp them along with giving them some movement.

3. Smiling

Babies start smiling when they are about 6-8 weeks old. Their first smile is usually a sign of contentment. It could be because you just gave them a nice belly rub or did something they liked. When they get older, they will start smiling when they see you or anyone they recognise or like.

4. Rubbing eyes and face

When babies start rubbing their face, it usually means that they are ready to go to sleep. It could also indicate that they feel itchy. They usually rub their eyes when they start feeling sleepy. They may also take comfort in rubbing and pulling their ears. But if they are fussy while rubbing their ears and their temperature has gone up, it could mean that they have an ear infection.

5. Startled

Sometimes, babies make a sudden jerky movement like turning their head around or opening their eyes out wide. This is usually followed by crying and is caused by either a loud sound, bright lights or a sudden movement they weren’t prepared for. To pacify them, swaddle them up into a small blanket, place the baby up against your chest and gently rock him/her to sleep.

6. Hunger and pain cry

A hunger cry is usually easy to identify. It is a low-pitched, short wail asking you to feed him/her. As long as you feed them right away, it shouldn’t be an issue. If they cry for a long period of time, in a constant pitch, it could mean that they are in pain. 

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