Newborn Cues: A Guide to Communicating with Your Baby
Bringing home your newborn is an emotionally charged time. You may feel excited, elated, tired, and very nervous. It's hard to communicate with someone so new to this world. Newborns can't do much to indicate what they need or how they feel, but there are some simple newborn cues you can learn.
Newborns will try to communicate with you in their own way. They may cry a lot, but their cry is their key method of communication and should never be ignored. However, aside from responding to their cry, there are many other little cues new parents can learn to recognize.
If you’re in that beautiful period of caring for a newborn, then you know how challenging it can be to determine what your newborn needs. Here at 123BabyBox, we want to help new parents make the most of this time, so we created this detailed guide filled with useful advice to help you communicate with your baby.
Related: White Noise for Babies: Can it Help Your Baby Sleep?
Learn About Newborn Cues
Learning about your baby’s cues will help you develop a strong and healthy relationship with them. Many people may believe that newborns don’t communicate much at all, but this would be a false assumption.
Even though newborns sleep for 16-17 hours daily, they still communicate with you while awake. Since most newborns only sleep in short increments of 1-2 hours, they spend most of their awake time communicating with their caregivers.
Newborns' main cues indicate hunger, tiredness, playfulness, or overstimulation. Once you understand your newborn's needs, it'll be easier for you to immediately meet them, which will lead to a strong attachment that is crucial for your baby's development.
Newborns need to eat very frequently. It's perfectly normal for your baby to lose a little bit of weight when they're first born, but they should gain it back within the first two weeks of their life.
On average, newborns lose 7-10% of their body weight immediately after birth. In order to gain that weight and thrive, it's essential to ensure your newborn is eating a minimum of every three hours. Breastfed babies often feed more frequently to stimulate the mother's milk supply, and sometimes formula-fed babies will want to go through a cycle of very frequent feeding as well, which is called cluster feeding.
When your baby is hungry, they're likely to make sucking noises, turn toward the breast, and root around looking for the nipple. They may also cry or become fussy. No two babies are alike, and your newborn might try sucking on their hands or only cry when they're hungry.
Once you learn your baby's hunger cues, you'll be able to feed them quickly and meet that need. Responding to your baby's cues immediately will help them feel loved and safe and encourage a strong attachment.
Newborns need a ton of sleep in the first few weeks of their life, and it's common for them to spend 16-17 hours or more asleep each day. However, most babies have trouble sleeping longer than 1-2 hours at a time, so you'll need to watch for tiredness cues, so you know when it's time to help them fall asleep.
Tired cues are usually easier to pick out than other cues. Your baby might yawn, stare into the distance, make jerky movements, fuss, cry, or become utterly disinterested in anything around them.
When you hold your tired baby, bring them into a dark room, and help them fall asleep, you communicate with them. You're telling your baby you are there for them and willing to meet their needs.
Related: How Long Should a Newborn Sleep: How Much is Too Much?
Very young newborns usually don't offer playful cues as their days are typically spent eating and sleeping only. However, they'll want to play and interact with you more once they're a little older.
Some signs your baby might be ready for playtime include making eye contact, looking around with wide and bright eyes, reaching out toward you, or making cooing noises.
This is an excellent opportunity to encourage further communication with your baby. You can talk to them during playtime, sing to them, and show them various toys to see which one captures their interest best.
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Babies can only handle a small amount of stimulation in the beginning. Having visitors over, having the TV or radio on, and bringing your baby out for a walk or the store can all cause your little one to become overstimulated.
With very young babies, their overstimulated cues may look a lot like their tiredness cues. Until about four months of age, when a baby becomes overstimulated, it’s probably also time for a nap.
However, once they reach about four months of age, an overstimulated baby may not be ready for a nap but simply needs some quiet or a change of pace. Some signs your baby might be overstimulated include fussing, kicking or squirming, and refusing to look at you or others in the room.
How Important Is It To Respond To A Newborn’s Cues?
Responding to your newborn’s cues is essential to their development. Not only does it ensure they’re being properly cared for, but it also teaches them that you are a safe person who is going to meet their needs.
Babies feel safe and loved when caregivers reliably and consistently respond to their cues. This will help your baby form a strong and secure attachment to you, which is vital to their brain development.
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Meet Your Baby’s Needs With 123BabyBox
Here at 123BabyBox, we understand the challenges parents face. It can be difficult to keep up with your baby's cues when you're sleep-deprived and haven't had a warm meal in weeks. You can use our detailed guide to help you navigate your baby's cues during your forgetful moments.Related: Newborn Won’t Sleep? Try These Tips