18 Signs From Babies That Will Help You Understand Them Better

Australian pediatrician Priscilla Dunstan has spent the last 20 years figuring out what different kind of cries, sounds, and expressions babies make mean. She has taken samples of babies from different culture and nationalities, figuring out if what they want is food or tugging to sleep.

She focuses on babies aging 3-4 months old (imagine that the first few babies she’s studied are now in their twenties!), a time when babies begin to seek for communication to show their needs.

Why are you crying?!

  • Calling cry. Crying intermittently between 5-6 seconds for every 20 seconds. The process repeats until it becomes continuous when parents don’t come.
  • Hunger cry. Starts with a short intermittent cry that quickly becomes hysterical along with head jerking movements and sucking reflexes in their mouth.
  • Pain cry. Monotonous, but loud. The cry can intensify along with the pain. Weak babies may still make monotonous but weaker cries.
  • Discomfort from the digestion system. Babies will make between whining and crying noises.
  • Sleepy cry. While rubbing their eyes and yawning, the cry can go between whining and being offended.
  • Discomfort cry. Babies will usually make weird movements along with intermittent crying which means their diaper is full or they are too hot or cold.

Babies make different kinds of international sounds. Here’s what they mean.

  • ‘Neh’ means ‘I’m hungry’ which is a reflex to their sucking habit.
  • ‘Eh’ is a sound close to before they burp as gas moves up the esophagus.
  • ‘Owh’ is what they make because their lips curled up before they yawn.
  • ‘Heh’ that comes together with the baby jerking their head and limbs anxiously from feeling uncomfortable.
  • ‘Eairh’ means the baby is in pain in their tummy! They are trying to stretch while making sounds that get distorted in the process.

They also move in ways to show what they’re feeling!

  • Arching their back can mean the baby is full or is experiencing reflux. Babies older than 2 months old do this to show tiredness.
  • Rotating their head is something a sleepy baby does. Being in an unfamiliar situation, it’s what they do to check things out.
  • Grabbing their ears. Nothing in particular except being explorative. But this should be checked if it’s often done while they’re crying.
  • Clenching their fists. Before babies cry for food, they do this.
  • Lifting their legs happens to babies trying to relieve colic & tummy pain.
  • Jerking their arms. You’ve probably seen this when the baby is surprised by something!

Feeling enlightened now? Share this with parents or siblings who need help!

Isabelle Ross

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