Baby Body Language – What is my infant 'saying' to me?

For the first three months, it may look like your baby is giving you body language cues. They may turn their head quickly if you touch their cheek or hear a loud noise. According to doctors, these actions are just your baby’s natural reflexes. Once they are three months or older, some of these reflexes may disappear.

Not all body movement in infants are reflexes, however. Don’t worry, when they smile, they are truly expressing happiness, not acting on a reflex.

You might notice some of these actions as your baby grows:

  • Arching of the back, flexing of the fingers and toes, and opening their eyes wide. This usually indicates pain.

  • Wrinkling the nose shows disgust.

  • Your baby purposefully averting your eye-gaze could mean they want some alone time.

  • If their hands are clasped in front of their chest, it usually means they are ready to play!

  • Covering their eyes with their hands might be a way to block off loud noise or lots of movement. If your child does this, it might be a good opportunity for quiet time.

  • If your baby squints her eyes, narrows and lowers her eyebrows, and opens her mouth in a square shape, it probably means she’s angry!

We may not realize it, but babies can feel a whole array of emotions!

  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Interest
  • Distress
  • Disgust
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Contempt
  • Surprise
  • Shame

In time, you will come to identify your baby’s needs. This information can be used as a starter for new parents or a refresher for experienced ones. Just remember thatevery baby is different. Babies, just like everyone else, have different personalities. Once you find what makes your baby tick -- keep with it!

More on nonverbal communication:

"Understanding and Interpreting Your Baby's Cries"
"Tips on Calming Your Crying Baby"
"How to Support and Encourage Baby When S/he is Frustrated"
"How to Help your Toddler Manage, Recognize, and Truimph Over Frustration!"
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