A mother carried her tiny baby into the clinic. When she got to the front of the queue she gingerly lowered her baby onto the scale. I looked down at the baby and said, “Good morning little baby”. The new mother looked up at me and almost apologetically said, “My baby can’t talk yet”.
Of course all babies communicate, but in a language which we, mothers, need to learn and interpret. Straight after birth we try to understand the different signs. We all make mistakes at first, but as time goes on, we become better and better at it.
There are different types of crying, and that alone can become quite challenging.
Sometimes baby cries because he / she is hungry.
Sometimes baby cries because he / she has some discomfort
Sometimes baby cries because he / she is lonely.
As mothers we quickly learn to distinguish the different cries.
Interpreting baby’s body language becomes a skill which we develop. Take for instance the calm baby. Facial expression is relaxed and often the mouth seems to have an “ooh” shape. The little eyes are open and baby makes eye contact. Hands are open and baby makes minimal large movements. Baby is curious and aware of surroundings and responds to sounds. This is the moment we have all been waiting for: the signals are there – our baby is ready for kisses, cuddles, chats and games!
Then there are warning signals we need to heed. A stressed baby, a baby who has had enough, or is overwhelmed by surroundings, will display definite signs. Clenched fists, hands that are clasped together or holding onto his / her face may be a sign. This baby may prefer to be in the foetal position. Also be alert when baby straightens the legs and braces himself / herself against the body of the care-giver or the sides of the cot. Baby may suck loudly and have tense facial expressions.
Don’t fuss mommy! Try to take the baby to familiar surroundings if possible or go to a place which is quiet and conducive to sleep. Baby will settle down and probably go to sleep.
Now Mom, challenge yourself to be much more alert when your baby communicates with you. Learn baby’s language.
Welcome little stranger – we are listening to you!
Teresa Denton ©