Becoming a new parent is a scary thing. You thought that you could barely look after yourself, and then boom. A tiny and vulnerable human is now in your life and it depends solely on you. You’ve gone from struggling to keep your house plant alive to suddenly having the task of keeping a newborn baby alive. It isn’t an easy journey, to say the least.
And the main question bubbling on every new mom’s lips is, “What does my baby even want?!”.
Babies are complex little things, and with no ability to communicate, we have to try and crack their little Da Vinci codes by ourselves. While you do learn to understand your baby’s mannerisms (or screams and shrieks…) with time and practice, we’ve come up with a few little signs that we think will help you to understand what your little one is trying to say.
The seemingly hard part is over. You survived the contractions and the labor (a massive well done to you, by the way), and you now have the roller coaster journey of parenthood to strap yourself into.
No more spontaneous weekends away, no more late-night cocktails. The social life that you once had has been put on hold for a little while.
Sleep? What is this myth?
Unless you’re one of the lucky few whose baby actually sleeps through the night, then you’ll have temporarily adapted to running on 2 hours of broken sleep a night.
Remember a long, long time ago, when you were able to use the toilet and shower by yourself? Yeah, that isn’t your life anymore.
Childbirth isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it look. Rather than emerging from the birthing room, glowing and beaming with your new child, you exit looking like you’ve just left the set of Saw.
And the postpartum process is a long one – your body is slowly recovering from not only growing, but from carrying around a little human for the past forty weeks.
It’s all pretty mind-blowing. The fact that our bodies can endure such trauma and just gradually repair itself is phenomenal. You go, girls!
Like the postpartum stuff isn’t enough.
You now have the overwhelming responsibility of caring for and keeping alive, not just yourself, but your new baby, too. No pressure.
And we haven’t even started to discuss looking after the baby yet.
With time, you will learn your baby’s unique little ways of telling you what’s wrong, but the beginning won’t be easy. Are they hungry? Are they tired? Are they just bored? It’ll be impossible to know at first.
We’ve formulated a little list of babies’ mannerisms and signs that may help to point you in the direction of what they might want. You may (probably) have these down to a T, but every little helps, right?
The big one. This is the part that every new parent dreads. Your baby is going to cry – a lot. And, to make it more fun, babies cry for an array of different reasons as it’s the only way that they can communicate or express themselves in the first few months.
There are several types of cries that you need to listen out for, and we’ve listed a few of the most common ones below!
This is probably the most common one. This cry will sound loud and hysterical. They may also rotate their heads and make smacking noises with their mouths.
This is when the baby is simply wanting company and attention. When they’ve been alone for a while, they will do short bursts for around 5-6 seconds and pause. If there’s no response, their cries will become more continuous.
This crying will be loud and consistent and may fluctuate with bursts of pain.
However, if your baby is getting sick, the cry may be monotonous and quiet, indicating that they don’t have enough strength to cry loudly.
Not to be mistaken with a cry of pain, the crying will sound irritated and will be irregular. Your baby may also flail and fidget around – this will be the time to check the diaper.
This cry is more whiny and high pitched than a regular cry. This can be down to simple things such as urination and defecation, as they are still new experiences to your child and can cause discomfort.
Babies can get exhausted quickly. When your baby is tired, their crying will be a smooth whining, often followed by yawns. There will also be a lot of eye and ear rubbing.
This cry will sound very frustrated and angry. Newborns, in particular, will be affected by a sudden change in scenery and environment.
Your baby is going to make a lot of noise. As their brains’ develop, babies experiment with making different sounds. This is all part of the speech development process.
Babies do learn to make their own unique sounds to communicate, though. We’ve listed a few here.
This noise is produced from excess air in the oesophagus, which the baby is trying to release from their mouth.
This sound is produced from the baby folding their lips before yawning.
This sound is produced when the baby pushes their tongue to the top of the mouth. This is often triggered by the sucking reflex.
When a baby is in discomfort, they will writhe and jerk about. These movements will produce this noise when the baby’s mouth is open.
When the baby strains and distorts their stomach, the sounds may become distorted and turn into a moan or groan.
So much can be said through a baby’s body language. Due to their lack of ability to speak, a baby will often move their body in an attempt to communicate. Here are a few of the most common ones.
This is a sign of hunger. If you catch this early enough, you may avoid them crying.
This is a soothing movement for the baby. They may do this when they’re comfortable, or when they’re falling asleep.
In most cases, they may just be exploring their body. Only get worried if they do this with a lot of crying. That might mean pain.
After eating, a baby will arch their back to indicate that they’re full. It can also indicate tiredness and a bad mood. However, babies under two months old may do this when suffering from pain or colic.
This is a sign of the baby being startled or frightened. Try to comfort your child as quickly as possible to avoid any crying.
This is typically a sign of stomach pain or colic. The baby does this to relieve the pain.
Those sounds, cries and movements are just a handful of signals that your baby will give to you. But don’t worry! Each baby is unique, and as a parent, you will gradually learn their own little quirks and mannerisms. You’ve got this!