Babies are mysterious creatures. What’s fascinating about them is that they enter the world as a kind of blank slate, ready to absorb whatever information their environment presents to them. They’re a universal computing machine that has no idea what it actually is when you first switch it on. In the first few months of life, babies begin to gain a sense of self, come to understand that there are other people in the world and start using language for themselves.
All of this makes babies incredibly mysterious when they first arrive. Experts think that babies have a fundamentally different kind of consciousness to adults. It seems like they imagine that they are the world, instead of the part of it, and can’t always tell the difference between their bodies and those of the people around them.
Babies, however, have a kind of innate logic. They’re able to figure things out in a series of steps, each building on the last. Eventually, they come to realize that they are a thinking, breathing entity, able to affect the world around them. The world isn’t them but something else “out there” over which they have no conscious control.
Given how strange existence is for the first few weeks of life, babies have had to develop new ways to communicate with parents. You can’t come out of the womb speaking English fluently if your parents are Spanish. Babies have to find other ways of communicating.
Babies do the best that they can when it comes to communicating with parents, but their techniques aren’t perfect. What’s more, many parents go through the first few months of their child’s life, having to guess what their needs are. They’re not always clear.
The good news is that there is an increasing amount of science that reveals what babies think when they do particular things. This research means that parents don’t have to spend their lives guessing what’s going on in their child’s head. There is a way to find out.
Why It’s Important to Understand Your Baby
Understanding your baby comes with a host of benefits. The first is that it gives the baby a sense of relaxation. The child knows that if it has a problem, then it can communicate with the parent, and they can provide assistance.
Understanding also helps to build trust between parent and child. Being able to communicate tells the baby that you have his or her best interests in mind and that you are someone that they can rely on. Again this breeds trust and makes a baby feel more confident. Speaking the language of babies, therefore, is essential.
Babies, like people, go through a variety of moods. For a lot of the time, babies are asleep, either in deep sleep or light sleep, where they may periodically open and close their eyes or engage in sucking motions.
At other times, babies are alert and active, seeking to explore the world around them. Finally, there will be times that babies cry. Crying isn’t always an indication of some immediate need or even anything visible to caregivers. However, you may notice that it happens more on some occasions than it does on others. Babies, for instance, might cry more when you try to dress them or feed them baby food that they don’t like.
Over time, most parents get a sense of what their babies need, but there are ways to fast track your knowledge, as you’ll discover below.
Here are some of the signs that your baby is trying to tell you something.
They’re Trying To Find Things
When a baby looks around and tries to find things, it can be a sign that he or she is bored and lonely. It is, therefore, an opportunity for parents to play with their children and engage them in some way. You often find that your baby’s expression will change the moment that you start interacting with them. Their look of longing or loneliness will transform into a smile or a change in the way that they use their facial muscles.
It’s worth noting that you don’t need to entertain your child all the time. Moreover, constant attention might not be particularly helpful. The current advice is that parents provide their babies with care when they ask for it.
During the first few months of life, all your baby needs for entertainment is your face. Babies are endlessly fascinated about the world and love to spend time looking into the faces of their caregivers. After a few months, however, you might want to introduce toys for them to play with too, so that they can entertain themselves when you’re not available.
Their Hair Is Damp, or They’re Breathing Rapidly
Babies aren’t usually able to tell you if they’re too hot or too cold. While they might cry, that could be for a whole host of reasons, not just because they’re unable to regulate their body temperature.
Just like adults, a baby’s body will begin to show signs of overheating. The most common is wet hair. The body will produce sweat that covers the scalp and then evaporates, cooling the child off.
Another common sign is rapid breathing. Again, this is an attempt by the baby’s body to cool off and release moisture into the atmosphere.
What about being too cold? You can tell if your baby is too cold by feeling their extremities, like their hands and feet. It’s normal for a baby’s hands and feet to feel cool, but if they are cold, then it could be a sign that their internal temperature has fallen more than it should.
Because of their small size, babies lose heat to their surroundings much faster than adults. It’s vital, therefore, to make sure that you cover them up when taking them outside in the winter, especially their heads.
They’re Yawning Or Looking Drowsy
The world is an awe-inspiring magical thing to a new baby. It’s often hard for us to appreciate as adults, but they’re seeing everything for the first time, including faces, toys, and even the interior decor of your house. Babies, therefore, are at risk of over-stimulation.
Often, their brains can only take in so much information at once. Some babies will begin yawning, while others will look drowsy. This behavior is the brain’s way of saying that enough is enough for the time being and that it needs to sleep to integrate the new information.
They Want to Roll Over
Before a baby can crawl or walk, they have to learn how to roll. It’s vital that as parents, you learn how to help your baby roll over. A few months into life, you’ll begin to see signs that your baby wants to do more than merely lie on their back or stay in whatever position you put them in. They begin to learn how to control their muscles and move around in the cot or pram.
Your job, as a parent, is to help facilitate this movement. You can do this in several ways – including encouraging tummy time. Over time, you’ll see that your baby develops the strength in their core muscles that they need to roll over and move around. It’s all part and parcel of the process of learning to both crawl and walk.
They Seem Agitated and Pull Their Knees Toward Their Stomach
Babies, just like the rest of us, sometimes feel agitated and uneasy. A baby might only appear this way because they want attention, but if they bring their knees to their tummy, it can be a sign of trapped wind.
Easing a baby’s wind is relatively straightforward. One of the things that you can do is pat their back or burp them to try to eliminate the discomfort. Another thing you can do is pat them in different positions, either lying down, over your shoulder, or sitting on your knee. A change in position can help eliminate the trapped air.
Babies often develop trapped wind because of small air bubbles in their bottles. It might be worthwhile, therefore, choosing drinking containers with small holes that enable the pressure inside and outside the bottle to equalize to prevent gulping.
They’re Crying Relentlessly
Most babies don’t like the feeling of a soiled nappy against their skin. If it feels uncomfortable, they’ll continue crying until you sort the problem out.
Babies, however, won’t always cry if they have a soiled nappy. Sometimes it can be something as simple as losing interest in playing or not responding to facial expressions. Some babies will also become red in the face, almost as if they are frustrated with the sensation and want it to go away.
In summary, babies have an enormous variety of techniques that they use to communicate their needs to the outside world before they learn the language. Sometimes you can tell what kind of person a baby will turn out to be, just by observing their early behavior and making extrapolations. Some babies don’t mind being handled and are easy to soothe, while others dislike it and are more of a challenge to pacify.