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    baby cues and body language

    How to read baby cues and body language

    From the moment they’re born, your baby has a lot to say. Whether they’re rubbing their eyes when they’re tired to reaching their arms up when they want a cuddle, they’ve got ways to tell you how they’re feeling. Here are some baby cues and body language to look out for.

    • Ask yourself if they’re hungry. They might be hunting for the breast or fidgeting and sucking fingers, your shoulders, or even your nose or chin! Crying is a late sign that your baby is very hungry. 
    • Ask yourself if your baby’s tired. Look out for a slow build-up of grunt-like cries and rubbing eyes.
    • Are they uncomfortable or in pain? This is often signaled with a sudden high-pitched shriek followed by a big breath and another shriek.
    • Is your baby colicky? Crying is a way for babies to communicate their needs but there are times when some babies may be inconsolable. Talk to your doctor if you think your baby has colic.
    • Is your baby looking for interaction? If they are awake and alert, grabbing at your finger or an object, or playing with their hands and feet they may be showing you it’s time to play.
    • Watch out for signs of fear. Baby may freeze on the spot.
    • Remember they’re learning to talk. Regular babbling means they are working to communicate. Speak back to them and narrate your day to them so that they have the opportunity to hear lots of words.  
    • See if they want something. Once baby learns to point, they may get good at giving instructions and communicating what they are looking for.
    • Find out if they just want a cuddle. Baby will soon start to raise her arms to let you know.
    • See if they want to play. Baby’s eyes may become wide and bright or they may purse their lips and coo or babble. Excited movement of arms and legs are another signal that baby wants to play.
    • Look out for signs your baby is content—an angelic little face smiling back at you!


    Toronto Sick Kids. About Kids Health. Social and Emotional Development in Babies. Accessed September 2020.


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