How to Decode Your Baby's Body Language

Communication helps us build and maintain relationships. Although babies aren’t able to communicate through words, they use gestures to convey their thoughts and feelings.

By Arun Sharma

How to Decode Your Baby's Body Language

Medical science has proved that babies are able to listen to and learn language while still in the womb. However, after their birth, babies take time to acquire the ability to speak. So, does it mean that while babies are still learning to talk, they don’t make any attempts to communicate?

Certainly not; they do communicate. In fact, they use body language and facial expressions to tell us a lot about what’s going on in their minds. However, most first-time parents don’t know this fact. As a result, they are unable to understand what their baby is trying to say. Sometimes, this lack of communication can upset the little one and leave parents feeling exasperated.

To help you get over the confusion and communicate effectively with your baby, we have attempted to decode the meaning behind your little one’s subtle and mysterious gestures. Read on to know about the common gestures of your baby to learn what she is trying to tell you.

1. Flinging the arms and legs, and wailing: Your newborn remains awake for only brief period and is asleep for most part of the day. This gives you the time to take care of other important chores around the house. However, an occasional ear-piercing wail can make you drop everything and rush towards her room or wake you up from sleep feeling nonplussed. Finding your baby crying loudly and flailing her arms and legs can leave you feeling confused and alarmed. Don’t worry. Most of the time, it happens when babies are startled by some noise. Ensure a noise-free environment to prevent or reduce such occurrences. Even when no one is around, the baby might wail and fling her arms and legs. This is to signal that she doesn’t feel safe.

2. Avoiding eye contact: Your baby is constantly absorbing information and learning new things through observation. Sometimes, this can make him feel tired or bored. During such times, your baby will break eye contact and turn his head away to look in another direction. Don’t be surprised by his behaviour. All he is trying to say is, “I need a break.” So, let him relax and wait until he is ready to reconnect with you again.

3. Kicking her legs and breathing rapidly: Your newborn is too young to express her feelings through words. But, lack of language is not going to restrain her and keep things back from you. To tell you how happy and enthusiastic she is feeling, she will breathe rapidly and kick her legs.

4. Babbling and cooing: It is your baby’s attempt at talking to you. He has been patiently listening to what his parents have been saying all along, and now it’s time to try to talk back. Babbling and cooing are your child’s attempts to mimic talking. By around 6 months, your baby would be able to alter the tone of his sounds to convey his emotions. So, keep talking to your baby to encourage him to learn to speak.

5. Crying: Your baby’s cry is a distress call and can have different meanings like, “I feel hungry,” or “I am suffering from pain,” or “It’s nap time; so, put me to sleep.” After listening carefully to her cries for a few days, you will be able to understand the reason behind the distress call.

6. Arching the back: Babies usually tend to do this during or after feeding. There are quite a few reasons they do so like colic, reflux, and feeling full. Usually, stopping feeding or changing the position in which your baby is lying will help relieve the discomfort. Sometimes, your baby may also pull his legs up to his stomach. This may also be an indication that he is suffering from stomach discomfort. Making him do bicycle movements with his legs can help during such times.

Trying to decipher what your infant wants you to understand is one of the biggest challenges. However, with a bit of careful observation, you will be able to slowly make out what is going on in his mind.