From the moment that a couple hears that they are going to have a baby, they feel excitement and fear. The excitement comes from the thought of expanding their family. The fear comes from the unknown. First-time parents don’t have much experience with babies, which is where the fear kicks in. The fear of the unknown is one of the worst types of fear to have.
One problem that most parents have when it comes to their babies is not knowing what the baby wants. Since babies cannot communicate with words, parents are forced to try to guess what it is that their baby wants and needs. Fortunately, there are a few ways to understand what your baby needs. Every parent should know the 7 clues to decode your baby’s body language.
Communication Clue: Arching Back
If your baby arches her back, it could be a reaction to pain, particularly heartburn. If your baby arches her back in the middle of being fed, it means that she is full. It could also mean that she has GERD, acid reflux, or colic. When stomach acid comes up her esophagus, the baby will arch her back to relieve the discomfort. Crying is often accompanied by the arching of the back. In older infants, the back arching could be due to the baby feeling angry, frustrated, or tired. In cases like this, try playing with your baby. You could also try putting her down for a nap.
Communication Clue: Constant Kicking
Claire McCarthy, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School at Christian’s Hospital Boston says that if a baby is constantly kicking while smiling and appearing to be happy, it likely means that she wants to play. If she is fussy and kicking, there could be something wrong. It could be a dirty diaper, gas, or feeling cramped in her seat. It is a good idea to take a good look at the baby to figure out what might be bothering her. If you are able to figure out why she is kicking, you can take the necessary steps to help her feel better, and the kicking will stop.
Communication Clue: Head Banging
Catherine Nelson, MD, a pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose says that most babies find the rhythmic back-and-forth motion, soothing. This is normal if your baby does this for a minute or two. If your baby does this for more than a few minutes, you should bring it to your doctor’s attention. By the time the baby turns three, the behavior should have subsided. If it persists, your doctor may want to run a few tests to figure out why this behavior hasn’t stopped.
Communication Clue: Grabbing the Ears
Dr. Nelson says that just because your baby is pulling on her ears, it doesn’t mean that she has an ear infection. While an infection is a possibility, it could also mean that she is teething. This is particularly common behavior when your baby’s one-year molars are coming in. Your doctor can take a good look into your baby’s ears to see if she has an infection. If she does, your doctor will prescribe something to treat it. If everything looks clear, teething is the culprit. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much that you can do about teething.
Communication Clue: Clenched Fist
If your baby is clenching her fist tightly, it means that she is stressed out due to hunger. If your baby is making a fist, even if she isn’t crying, you should feed her. S. Michelle Long, a certified baby nurse from New York City, says that when babies are hungry, their whole bodies tense up. If she feels tense, she is hungry. She isn’t hungry enough to cry yet, but when you notice this, you should make a bottle. It’s best to have the bottle ready before the crying begins. It is easier for you and your baby. There is nothing worse than trying to heat up a bottle when your baby is screaming.
Communication Clue: Scrunched-Up Knees
If your baby scrunches up her knees to her belly or out to the side, it is a sign that she has a digestive issue. She could be constipated, she could have gas, or she could have an upset stomach. If your baby does this, don’t try to pull her legs straight because she will just scrunch them up again. Try rubbing her belly, laying her on her belly, or putting a warm water bottle over her belly. These are sure-fire ways to help relieve your baby’s stomach issues. After a few minutes, your baby should straighten her legs out on her own. Once the problem subsides, she will feel better.