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Reading Baby’s Body Language

Settling baby into the cot on his or her first night at home since the hospital, you wonder how you and baby will communicate for the next two years or so. Since baby is not able to talk yet, how would you know what baby is feeling or what baby is trying to tell you? Being clueless about what he or she wants can be frustrating, especially for first time parents.

To overcome this, you would need to be adept at interpreting baby’s body language. How baby behaves and his or her facial expressions can tell you a lot about what baby wants. Read on to find out more about some of baby’s common actions and what they mean.

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Covering or rubbing the eyes
In most cases, when baby starts covering or rubbing his or her eyes, it means that baby is tired and ready for a nap. Whenever possible, put baby to sleep the moment he or she gives you this cue. If baby becomes over-tired, he or she may start fussing and crying loudly, making it harder for you to get baby to sleep.

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Arching of the back
This is usually a sign that baby is experiencing tummy discomfort, whether it is due to colic or a build up of gas. When this happens, try rubbing baby’s tummy to help relieve the pain, or change his or her position to make baby more comfortable.

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Kicking legs
Take this as a good indication that baby is happy and wants to play. It is also baby’s way of telling you that he or she likes what is happening at the moment – whether you are playing with baby in the tub, or listening to a particular song that is playing on the radio.

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Head bobbing
If you find that baby starts to bob his or her head when in the playpen, or when placed on baby’s stomach, or even while you are carrying baby upright over your shoulder, do not worry. Repetitive movement such as this calms baby down. It is also a sign that baby is getting his or her balance in steadying the neck or body.

However, if you find baby doing this too much and too often, bring it to the attention of your paediatrician to rule out other health issues.

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Rapid breathing when nursing
If you find baby breathing heavily or gulping really quickly while feeding, slow baby down by taking a break. This will help baby regulate his breathing and swallowing patterns better.

Do not worry if you have yet to get the hang of interpreting baby’s body language perfectly. It takes time to get to know baby and the way he or she communicates with you. When in doubt, always listen to what your instincts tell you. Soon, you will be able to distinguish between the slightest cry, just like a pro!