Learning What Your Newborn Is Saying
Right from birth and well before your baby speaks their first words, they are communicating with you through their behaviour. This communication can be as clear as a good loud cry or as subtle as a slight movement of their eyebrow. Think of all your baby’s movements, expressions and responses as phrases they use to communicate with you- the unspoken words of their first language. Watch for, observe and interpret the meaning of your baby’s signals and cues and you will soon become familiar with what they are saying and get to know them very well.
Window Into My World
Your baby’s cues are completely trustworthy and authentic responses giving you information about what care they need and what they like and dislike. Unlike adults, there is no discrepancy between the feeling and its expression. Your baby cannot mask their feelings so what you observe you can trust unconditionally.
My Favourite Toy
Your baby not only knows your face and voice but also loves nothing more than connecting with you when they are in a quiet and alert state. They are much more engaged with your expressions and slow directed speech than they are in a toy. Have your face at a distance of around 10-18 inches. They will enjoy following your face and finding your voice- see their inborn hunger to connect with you.
A cry from your baby is a ‘call for help’ needing of urgent intervention. Your response is profoundly comforting. Crying is one of the ways a baby develops deep trust in you and the world because their cries are unfailingly answered.
Taking A Break
Your baby is so interested in exploring the world, especially through interaction with you, but they can only tolerate so much stimulation. There are many little time-out cues that can signal needing a break like yawning, looking away, sneezing, hiccupping, change in colour or breathing. Allow your baby to renew their energy and help by lowering the level of stimulation before playing again when they show they are ready.
Watch and Wait
When your baby’s eyes are heavy or flicker open and closed, they are in a kind of ‘no man’s land’ between sleep and wakefulness. As much as you would love to play, your baby is asking for you to wait for them during this transitional state. You will soon see if they are going back to sleep or ready to wake up.
Do Not Disturb
At this early stage, your baby will sleep for long periods in the day as they grow and develop rapidly. Your baby has an amazing ability to selectively tune out sounds and bright lights to preserve their sleep. They also appreciate your support in minimising disturbances in the environment.
Your baby feels validated and learns to understand how different emotions feel when you reflect those for them. When they have bright smiling eyes, beam back at them. When they are upset show them you sympathise with what is bothering them are ready to help.
You can see your baby’s readiness to feed through cues such as sucking on their hand and head turning, also called ‘rooting’, especially when you softly stroke their cheek or mouth. When your baby is quiet and alert this is the perfect time to feed them before they begin to get fussy.
For a newborn baby everything they experience is new for them. Your consistent and reliable caring responsiveness whether it be, protecting sleep, attending to a cry, engaging in interaction etc. give a constancy to anchor on in a wide sea of daily experiences. Your baby’s expectations being met allow them to develop a sense of trust in you and the world and in turn a core sense of self.
Along with support from you, your baby has amazing inbuilt abilities to help himself/herself stay calm and organised; especially if they are beginning to feel a little overwhelmed from the environment and stimulation around them. Admire how focusing in on an object or the rhythmic suck of their hand calms them.
Grow My Brain
Your baby is exquisitely sensitive to your touch, words and affirmation. Every loving response and every social experience will leave imprints on their brain, major transformations at this time of rapid brain development. When your baby is in a quiet, alert state, take every opportunity to interact. You will be deepening their sense of security and laying the foundations of a relationship that will last a lifetime.