Every parent knows the first year with a baby is both challenging and exciting. Your baby cries all the time, goes ‘neh!’, grabs their ears, and you have no idea what any of this means! Luckily, some experts decoded this unique baby language, and I’m here to share the clues you’ll need to figure out what your little bundle is trying to say. Let’s start with the way your baby cries.
During the first four months of life, crying is the main way babies express their needs.
Here are seven types of cries to listen for and what they mean: A calling cry Ever heard your baby cry for about 5 or 6 seconds, and then pause for the next 20 seconds? That’s a calling cry! This means that your baby has been alone for a while and now desperately needs your attention. If you don’t respond right away, you’ll hear this fascinating cycle of crying a couple more times.
So pick your baby up and give them all the loving they need! A hunger cry This type of cry is very similar to a calling cry with one little catch – if you don’t get in there right away, the crying becomes hysterical quickly.
Your baby may also start rotating their head and making smacking sounds with their mouth. This is a clear sign that it’s time to feed. A pain cry If you hear a pain cry once, you’ll never confuse it with any of the others.
This crying is flat and constant. But small hysterical outbursts mean the pain is increasing and you should call the doctor as soon as possible. This type of crying is also very loud, unless your baby isn’t strong enough to make loud noises. A physiological cry Babies deal with all kinds of bodily functions like us, from having gas to peeing and pooping. And these can cause them more discomfort than you think!
Thankfully, babies usually let you know right away by whining and squeaking as they cry. A sleep cry Sleep is another problem for babies – sometimes they just can’t! In this case their crying sounds like an offended and smooth whining, followed by loads of yawning. Sleepy babies also tend to rub their eyes and ears, so you can look out for these red flags as well.
A discomfort cry This crying sounds very irritated and often comes together with fidgeting.
Your baby can also flail their arms and legs and arch their backs. This usually means time to check their diaper or change their clothes. They may either be too hot or too cold. A bored cry This one is extremely common – your baby cries, you try doing everything you can but still can’t figure out what’s wrong. Easy, your baby is simply frustrated or bored!
Take them for a walk outside or around the house. A simple environment change can stop the crying quickly.
Okay, so now that you got the different crying scenarios down, it’s time to talk about the other sounds your baby makes. Yup, all these strange sounds have their own meaning! Australian pediatrician Dr.
Priscilla Dunstan has been studying early childhood sounds for more than 20 years. She examined 3 to 4-month old babies of different nationalities during her research. According to Dunstan, your baby starts actively making communication sounds only after 4 months old. Before that the sounds are just a primary reflex that needs to be figured out. So here’s a little “sound” cheat sheet: • “Neh” means “Hey, I’m hungry here, feed me!
” This sound comes from your baby pushing their tongue up to the roof of their mouth, triggering the sucking reflex.
• “Eh” is “I think I’m gonna burp now!” With that, the excess air starts leaving the baby’s esophagus, and your baby tries to release it from their mouth. • “Owh” means “I’m so sleepy and tired!” Your baby just folds their lips before yawning and this sound comes out!
• “Heh” is baby speak for “I’m not feeling it, I’m uncomfortable.” The main reason is probably an unpleasant feeling of some sort. The baby can give away their feelings by constantly moving and jerking their hands and feet as well.
• “Eairh” indicates “I have a sore tummy, help!” This strange sound can turn into a moan, as your baby stretches the belly and exhales.
Don’t ignore these symptoms – take action right away. And that’s basically all the baby sounds you need to know! Feel like a baby whisperer yet? Wait, I have one more important lesson for you – baby movements.
Small babies have their own body language that can help you detect their needs and moods.
Let’s take a look: Arching their backs Parents know that babies under 2 months old arch their backs a lot. In most cases it’s just a typical response to pain or colic but there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If your baby arches their back during eating, it’s a sign of reflux, after eating it means they’re full. And if your baby has passed the 2-month old mark but still does it, no need to worry – they’re simply tired or in a bad mood. Rotating their head This is your baby’s way of calming down.
You usually see it when they’re about to fall asleep or hang out with people they don’t know yet. Good news is that you can help your baby. Just gently rub their back and they’ll instantly relax. Grabbing their ears This may look pretty scary but it’s completely natural – your baby is simply exploring their body! However, if ear rubbing is followed by intense crying, you should definitely visit the doctor to find the source of the problem.
Clenching their fists Fist or no fist shows how hungry your baby is. A perfectly relaxed hand means that they’re full, while strong fist shows that they need baby food right this minute. Noticing this little detail in time can help you prevent the hungry crying and save you tons of time and stress! Lifting their legs During the first months of your baby’s life, colic and tummy pain are almost inevitable. Your baby tries to cope with it on their own by lifting their legs to ease those unpleasant sensations.
But any additional help from you is totally welcome, tummy rubs are awesome! Jerking their arms Loud sounds, bright lights, and sudden wake-ups provoke the startle reflex in little babies. As a result, they jerk their arms out of fear. In this case, your job is to comfort your baby and make sure that they’re alright. And that’s it!
That’s everything you need to know to read your baby’s mind! Pediatricians recommend parents talk to their babies as often as possible. Show them all the things around them, explain how they work, or tell cool stories, even if you feel like they don’t understand you. This type of constant communication will help them develop their own individual sounds and gestures to express their needs better.