Learn ways to decipher the signals from your little one.

Decoding baby’s secret language

So, here it is: Motherhood. You have a beautiful baby whose needs you want to meet more than your own and who is without doubt one of the most important people in your life. There’s only one sticking point. She can’t always tell you what she wants and you may sometimes feel like you’re having a slightly one-sided conversation.

Well fret not, follow these tips to decode her secret language and understand what your baby is trying to tell you. Once you you know these signs, you can be sure you will enhance your bonding-together experience even more with your little one.

Bonding eyes

Your newborn will lock her eyes onto yours around the 1- or 2-month mark, as her focus becomes clearer. This is her way of saying ‘I love you’ as well as looking to you for reassurance when she’s frightened.

How to reply Make eye contact back, talk, sing and engage her. Your baby gets your message even if she doesn’t understand the words. And if she’s looking to you for reassurance after a noise or sudden movement, a good soothing trick is to place your hand quite firmly on her tummy to make her feel secure.

Excited gurgle

This is your baby’s way of saying, “Look at me!” or “I like this!” Depending on what’s happening around her at the time — be it a toy that she’s playing with or something that’s caught her attention — gurgling is her positive, happy way of talking to you.

How to reply Encourage her by mirroring her upbeat tone and facial expressions. Say something like, ‘Hello!’, ‘Do you like that?’ or ‘Do you want this?’ while offering her the toy or object she seems to be looking at. Asking questions will teach your baby the give-and-take of adult conversation.

Hungry tongue

Is your baby sticking out her tongue and moving it from side to side? This indicates her need to search for something such as a cuddle or object to play with. And if her tongue’s sitting on the middle of her bottom lip and poking in and out, she’s showing you she’s hungry. She’ll also turn towards you if you stroke her cheek because she thinks there’s food nearby.

How to reply Offer her different things to find out what she’s searching for or feed her if she’s hungry. Buy a bit more time by distracting her with a toy if you’re unable to feed her immediately.

Main photo: INGimage

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Contented coo

These cute sounds start around the same time as gurgling, and are your baby’s expression of pure happiness. It may happen during a moment when she’s content and happy with whatever’s happening at the time.

How to reply Keep doing whatever you’re doing and coo back to show her you understand she’s happy, pausing to let her babble back at you. Listening to her coo allows you to understand what works best to calm your baby when she’s upset in future.

Being a new parent can be frustrating when you’re clueless about your baby’s cries and cues. In the first part of our ‘decoding your baby’s signals’, we learn to read your cherub’s coos and gurgles as well as interpret the signs of her hungry tongue and bonding eyes. Here are more ways to help you better understand your baby’s different needs and wants.

Frustrated fist

Your baby can clench her fist intentionally from around 4 or 5 months. Clenched fists may sometimes be a sign of stress or hunger but often it’s an indication that she’s overwhelmed or over-stimulated. So, in the nicest possible way, she’s telling you to back off.

How to reply Stop playing so that she can calm down, then tone down the intensity of what you’re doing and reassure her in a soothing voice. She’ll appreciate your tone even if she doesn’t understand the words.

Nervous cry

Your newborn does this for various reasons, ranging from hunger to tiredness. When she is between 6 and 8 months, however, a certain cry when you disappear from her sight indicates separation anxiety.

How to reply Soothe your baby, but also show her there’s nothing to worry about. Play peekaboo to help her understand that you’ll always return even when she can’t see you.

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Clever clap

From around 8 months, your child will be able to clap her hands. She’s showing off her nonverbal communications skills, and telling you, “Look what I can do!”

How to reply Make eye contact and mirror her joy back at her by clapping yourself. This is also a good time to start showing your baby other “excited” gestures, which she can learn to mimic, such as raising your arms in joy.

Power kicks

At around a month old, your sweetie starts to learn what being bored feels like. If she’s all happy and smiley, it’s probably a sign that she wants to play. Otherwise, if she’s being fussy, something could be bothering her.

How to reply First, check if something is bugging her — it could be anything from a dirty diaper to a scratchy label on her rompers. If nothing seems the matter, she’s probably kicking her legs simply because she can. Play with her by doing bicycle kicks with her and help her to move her legs in different ways — she’ll be amused by what she’s capable of.

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