Monday, January 9, 2012

"What is My Baby Trying to Tell Me?"

The first step to creating a healthy attachment with each of your children begins with meeting their basic needs. Sounds simple enough, right? However, any new mother can tell you that it is downright detective work to figure out what your child’s needs are sometimes! Especially when your child is a newborn, or before they can actually tell you what they need, you can only help your child based on the cues they send you. (Cues are the body language and other signals your child uses to communicate.)
Each baby or child has their own way of expressing themselves, but many cues are universal. Here is a table outlining what you can do as a caregiver or parent when your young children present the following cues. 

Child’s Cue
Common Meaning
Caregiver Response
Rooting, fist in mouth, licking lips
“I’m hungry”
Nurse or feed your baby
Arching their back
“I feel overstimulated or uncomfortable”
Change the activity, create a more peaceful environment, or hold and comfort the child
“I’m worried”
Comfort the child with a favorite blanket, hold the child, or change the activity
Smiling or Laughing
“I’m happy or content”
Continue the current activity until the child gives you a cue to stop
Looking away, or restless body movements
“I’m done”
Stop the current activity and give the child some time to relax
Yawning, Eyes unfocused, or Rubbing their eyes
“I’m tired”
Start to wind-down and transition into the child’s nap or sleep routine
Eyes focused, relaxed body, or grasping a person or object
“I’m ready to play!”
This is the ideal time for you to interact with your child through play, touch, reading, or other activities
Crying is also a common cue that your child can give, and it is often the most difficult to figure out the meaning. When your child cries, it can be helpful to go through a mental checklist of what your child may be trying to communicate to you, and then you can come up with a response that would meet your child’s need.
·         “I’m tired”: put the child down for a nap
·         “I am feeling overstimulated”: change the activity, or let the child rest
·         “I am feeling sick or uncomfortable”: check the child’s temperature or other symptoms of illness; contact your pediatrician, or administer appropriate medication; check to see if something is causing pain or if the child has an “owie” (bump, bruise, or scratch)
·         “I need a diaper change”: change the diaper, or maybe adjust it for comfort
·         “I’m hungry”: try nursing the child, feeding them, or giving them something to drink
·         “I’m scared”: hold the child, comfort them with their special blanket or object, change the activity or place