Newborn Babies’ Cues
Newborn babies give their mothers all cues they need to figure out what to do. Reading your newborn baby’s cues can be a bit daunting at first. What new mothers must learn is to interpret these cues & respond accordingly. You are equipped to care for your newborn once you understand how to interpret & respond to your baby’s cues.
When babies cry, they are telling you something—they are hungry, gassy, fussy, or have a wet or dirty diaper. They may be too hot, or too cold, or overly simulated & exhausted. Babies have no other language besides crying for help during the first two months. You will learn to read & interpret his cries.
When babies yawn, they are telling you— “only 20% of my battery is remaining.” Yawning is most often due to drowsiness & fatigue. Sometimes it occurs just after waking up to get more oxygen to the brain. When a newborn is tired or fatigued—he may yawn, stare into the distance, make jerky movements of arms & legs, arch backwards, frown, act fussy, suck on his fingers & clench his fists.
When your baby is quiet & alert—she is ready for interaction & wants to see your face, your eyes, your smile. She can fix & follow on your eyes from the time of birth! This is when you need to get up close, ten to twelve inches from her face, & talk to her, sing to her, cuddle, & coo. Newborns love the sound of baby-talk, especially from their mother.
Babies communicate through sounds – crying, cooing, squealing, also through facial expressions – eye contact, smiling, grimacing. They use gestures & body movements like moving their legs in excitement or distress. When we match their vocalizations & expressions, we are reinforcing their communication.
When your baby is fussy or overly tired—he may need rocking or patting to settle down. Newborns are soothed by carrying, rocking, & jiggling (he loves the vestibular stimulation these movements provide). Picking up your baby & holding him upright briefly will soothe a hungry infant & arouse a sleepy infant.
When your baby is fussy—she needs soothing. Allowing her to suck, either nurse at the breast or suck on a pacifier, is soothing. When you hold her, you may also swaddle, sway, & shush her, since all of these are soothing. Soothing promotes visual alerting & exploration. Nursing & feeding promote a calm, awake-alert state afterwards. Babies find sucking on a pacifier very soothing.
Your interactions with your baby while she is awake & alert promotes her brain development, then you & your baby become synchronized. Understand that you & your baby are in a biological dance—one of cues & response, one of needs met with care & love. You are a better dancer than you think you are, & you can learn to enjoy this dance with your baby.