When a child is really young, parents tend to worry a lot about the baby’s health and well-being, especially since the baby can’t communicate in ways they can understand. Babies can’t verbally not fully physically express themselves when something is wrong or when in need.
And this keeps parents guessing what might be causing discomfort to their child with every slight gesture or sound their infant makes.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean a child’s physical or verbal communication shouldn’t be considered because they don’t use actual words. They do communicate in their own way. You just need to learn to understand what they are trying to say.
How you ask?
Well, professionals explained three methods that we can use to understand what our babies are trying to communicate with us.
1. Baby cry
For the first few months of a baby’s life, the major means of communication is by crying. But how do you tell the difference between a child crying because they are in pain, discomfort, hungry or any other thing?
a. A child’s calling cry: when a child has been alone for too long and wants the attention of his or her parents, they would constantly cry about 5-6 seconds and then pause for about 20 seconds before they continue if there is no result. It is left for the parent to pick them up and attend to them else they would continue crying till you attend to them.
b. A child’s hunger cry: a child would continue crying if he or she isn’t picked up and this is the child wanting attention with the hope that the patent gives them food or something to soothe them. But when no attention is given, they could go hysterical. Crying louder and longer till they get what they want. You may also notice the baby turning and jerking his or her head and smacking their mouth as if expecting food from whoever cares to feed them.
c. A child’s pain cry: the baby’s cry would be loud, constant and monotonous. If they could, they would touch or scratch at the source of the pain and would burst into louder cry and express sadness and anger.
d. A child’s sick cry: the baby’s cry would also be monotonous but rather quiet since there is little or no energy to force out a loud cry. They would obviously be irritated but would be too tired to be physical about it.
e. A child’s discomfort cry: a baby would express discomfort if his or her psychological processes is being threatened. Activities such as urination, defecation or even gas would irritate a baby enough to cry. The cry usually resembles squeaking and whining. You may also notice them rubbing their feet against each other.
f. A child’s cry when sleepy: when a child is finding it difficult to sleep and wants to be petted, they cry like they’ve been offended. The cry would sound like a smooth whining or irritated cooing followed by constant yawning. The child may also rub their eyes and ears while crying.
2. Baby sound
An Austrian pediatrician, Priscilla Dunstan, has been researching and studying early infant sounds (3-4 months old babies) for more than two decades. Over a thousand babies from different nationalities are being studied and Pricilla suggests that primary reflex sounds baby make are international.
She also noted that after babies turn 4 months old, they begin to make sounds as if to communicate in regards to their physical needs. She has her own school where she teaches new parents how to listen and understand their babies. The “dictionary” of the sounds babies make includes;
a. “Eh”: baby wants to burp. This sound is produced when excess air begins to escape the child’s esophagus and the baby tries to let it out from their mouth reflexively.
b. “Neh”: baby is hungry. This sound is formed when your child pushes their tongue up the roof of their mouth and is often triggered by reflex responsible for sucking.
c. “Owh”: baby is tired and needs sleep. Babies make this sound by folding their lips before they yawn.
d. “Eairh”: baby has gas and is feeling pain in the tummy! This sound could be distorted and they may wriggle as if to express the pain they are feeling in their stomach.
e. “Heh”: baby is uncomfortable. Babies may jerk and push their hands and legs when they feel unpleasant sensations in their body. This is accompanied by the “heh” sound, especially when they have their mouth open.
3. Baby movement
Body language is a universal means of communication and babies are naturally born with it. How a baby expresses body communication says a lot about their well-being.
a. Arching of the back: babies usually under 2-3 months often arch their backs in reaction to colic and pain. When this is down after a meal, it means their stomach is full and don’t want more. But it is reflux if your baby often bends their back while eating.
If you baby is more than 2-3 months old and they still arch their backs, then this usually indicates bad mood and tiredness.
b. Rotating the head: this movement is usually done to calm them and is commonly done before they fall asleep.
c. Legs lifting: this usually a reaction to colic and stomach pain. When a baby does this, he or she is trying to reflexively ease the uneasiness and pain.
d. Fist clenching: know that when your baby is has his or her fist clenched, it is feeding time. This usually means they are hungry and could use some food at that point and you can quickly have them fed before they enter phase two. “Crying”.
e. Ear grabbing: you have nothing to worry about because the baby is simply curious. Babies do this to explore their body and they would occasionally pull on their ears. However, if they consistently pull on their ears and this action is followed by crying, then you should see a doctor as soon as you can.
f. Arms jerking: babies show fear by sudden jerking of their arms and this is usually caused by either a loud sound (thunder claps, sudden loud music or shouts), bright lights (sun), or when they are startled from sleep. You can make them relax by comforting them.
Furthermore, it is recommended by pediatricians to constantly communicate with your baby by talking, explaining, gesturing and pointing at things in their environment. You should do this even when they seem not to understand what you are talking about or doing.
This actions would speed up their learning process and would encourage them to start communicating with people around them faster than they would if you don’t communicate with them first. It would also help them develop quicker mentally, socially and even physically. I wish you all the very best with you baby and hope that you have a swell time with each other.
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