While babies may not have the ability to speak just yet, that doesn’t mean they aren’t saying anything! In fact, babies can actually tell you a lot about what they’re feeling, even from an early age.
Understanding a baby’s body language is an important factor in figuring out what they may be trying to tell you. They may not be able to express themselves through words but they can certainly do so through nonverbal cues and body language.
Through Southern Solutions’ childcare courses, we help our students develop a solid understanding of the intent behind a baby’s body language, and understand how to effectively respond to what they see and hear.
Decoding a baby’s body language
Understanding a baby’s body language isn’t rocket science.
Common wisdom says that babies are driven almost entirely by instinct. While this isn’t strictly true, with babies in fact being very capable of thought, one thing that babies aren’t capable of is subtlety!
Being able to read and interpret a baby’s body language and behaviour is essential for you to understand and respond to their needs.
Most of us are aware that a crying baby may indicate:
Babies also have a whole arsenal of other signs to get their message across. Understanding these are an important part of your success as an early childhood educator!
Today we share some of the most common baby body language cues, what they can mean, and how you can respond.
With arms wide open
Open arms often means baby is feeling relaxed and happy. So take advantage of this opportunity!
Take baby out for a stroll or play session. If you’re not keen to go out, hand the baby his favourite toy to play with.
Rubbing ears or eyes
When you see a baby rubbing his ears or eyes, most people’s first assumption would be that they’re tired and need some shut-eye. And you’d be right!
The moment that you see a baby rub their eyes or ears, it’s time to get them to bed.
Yep! As babies grow, they discover how sensitive their ears are and that it helps them get more comfortable. Seeing a baby rubbing their ears can mean that they’re trying to set themselves up comfortably for a little nap.
Additionally, babies are particularly susceptible to ear infections. So if you see a baby in your centre constantly rubbing his ears, he may be suffering from discomfort or an infection.
Why does baby kick his legs?
When a baby lets his inner taekwondo jin comes out and starts kicking his legs, it could mean he:
- Needs to pass gas
- Needs a nappy change
- Feels uncomfortable
- Feels happy and playful
We know what you’re thinking: Leg-kicking can mean discomfort and happiness? How are you supposed to tell the difference?
Your next hint is in his face: if he looks like he is in distress, it means something is causing him discomfort. And if not? He’s in a playful mood!
Why does baby arch his back?
Most of us would dismiss it as just a weird habit. But in many cases, frequent back-arching can be a baby’s way of telling you that they’re feeling discomfort or pain. It’s important to take precautions so the baby will not continue to feel any inconvenience after feeding.
- Make sure to keep the baby at an upright position after feeding as this helps keep food down and reduce regurgitation
- Provide baby with smaller and more frequent feedings. This can prevent his stomach filling and triggering acid reflux
- After feeding, don’t put the baby to sleep immediately. Instead, give them time to digest the food properly first
In the worst case scenario, frequent back-arching can be a sign that a baby may be suffering from Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux). Essentially, what this means is that the baby’s food pipe (oesophagus) is clogged with stomach acid or bile, causing irritation and pain.
Coo, babble and laugh
While babies may not be capable of speech just yet, their voices are capable of expressing emotion. As babies grow, they slowly start combining babbling, cooing, and sounds to convey their emotions.
And while it’s not quite Shakespeare, you can tell if they are happy, irate, furious, anxious or satisfied based on their tone and the sounds that they make.
When babies start cooing, babbling or laughing, take this chance to “converse” with the baby. Not only do babies love the attention, but it also helps language development!
Are you passionate about baby and toddler development? Enrol in our childcare courses today!
If you have the desire to provide care and support to babies, enrol in Southern Solutions’ childcare courses
When you sign up for our childcare courses in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, we make sure we cover all areas that are vital in childcare education. And that includes learning about babies, their body language and how you should respond to them.
We do this because we want to make sure that all our students become well-rounded childcare educators, capable of handling children of all ages and of resolving any issues that may arise.