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Oregon Family Magazine

What is Your Baby Telling You?

04/02/2021 ● By Sandy Kauten
Each baby is unique and special. Yet, all babies have a lot in common—they all have basic needs, like the need to eat and sleep. Infants also need to feel connected and this will contribute to a strong bond with their parents. Lastly, babies need to learn and master new skills such as making sounds and moving their bodies. But sometimes as parents, we don’t know what our baby is trying to tell us. 

The good news is that babies are born with everything they need to communicate their needs, which they feel as discomforts. They can fuss, squirm, cry, move their arms and legs, turn their head to look for food, suck, and much more.

Babies have a mystery of their own. They are learning to communicate their needs, and we are learning to figure out what they are saying. We cannot always find the answers in a baby book. In order to figure out what our baby needs or wants, we have to become a baby detective.  

What is a baby detective?

A baby detective is someone that observes their baby’s cues (which you can think of as clues) and uses those clues to figure out what their baby needs. Sometimes these clues can be obvious and sometimes they can be subtle. There are numerous ways a parent can become a good baby detective. 

• Carefully observe your baby: When you first notice that your baby is crying or starting to fuss, pay special attention and ask yourself, “What led to this and how can I help?” How long since their last feeding? Do they need a diaper change? Have they been in one position for too long? 

• Avoid jumping to conclusions: The next step is to avoid jumping to conclusions. While it is helpful to go through the typical checklist (hungry, tired, wet, etc), it’s important to be sensitive to what your baby is saying. Sometimes the communication is verbal and sometimes it’s not.

When you respond—whether it’s through touch or words—sensitively and quickly to meet your baby’s needs, you are teaching them to trust you and know you are there for them when they are having a hard time. They are learning that their world is a safe place, and they are important. 

• Look for patterns: Does your baby act this way during a specific time, such as after a nap, or being fed? Observing these patterns (or even writing them down) will help you understand your baby’s behavior and how you can support them now and in the future. 

• Make an informed guess and test out your hunch: After you have observed your baby and looked for patterns, you can now make an informed guess and test out that hunch. For example, if you notice that your baby starts to fuss after eating, you can use what you have observed to make an educated guess and test it out - such as burping your baby after you feed them. 

It’s time to put on your detective hat and solve the mystery. See what you can learn about your mysterious incredible infant!

Want to learn more about infant development? Register for the next Incredible INFANTs parenting group starting April 5) by emailing [email protected] or calling 541-434-4343.