7 clues to understand your baby’s body language


For new parents, it can be a real challenge to understand what their newborn wants in the first couple of months. While babies cannot speak yet, their body language actually tells everything that they need or want.

Apart from crying, experts believe that babies also display body language that can tell something. Hence, it is important for parents to be able to read their baby’s body language.

Here are seven communication clues to decode each body language:

1. Arching back

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If you see your baby arching their back, this may be a reaction to pain. The common cause for pain among babies is most likely heartburn.

However, it is also important to know when your baby does this body language. If it is in the middle of feeding, it may mean that they are full and do not want to be fed anymore.

It could also mean that the baby suffers from colic or digestive disorders like GERD or acid reflux. “As the stomach acid comes up into the esophagus in the middle of the chest, the baby will arch her back to try to relieve the discomfort,” Dr. Ari Brown said.

Another reason may be that they are frustrated, angry or tired.

2. Constant kicking

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According to assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School at Children’s Hospital Boston, Dr. Claire McCarthy, constant kicking can be a good sign.

“If she seems happy and smiley, it’s probably a sign that she wants to play,” she said.

Otherwise, if the baby becomes fussy, there is a high chance that something is irritating them. “It could be anything from gas to a dirty diaper to a cramped car seat, so do a quick once-over to see what might be bugging her.”

3. Head-banging

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Babies love motion and rhythm so if you find your baby rocking their head, it may be harmless and that they are just being playful.

“Babies find the rhythmic back-and-forth motion soothing,” pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Dr. Catherine Nelson explained.

However, if your baby does it for quite a while, it may mean something.

“If your baby bangs his head for long periods of time instead of engaging with others or playing with his toys, then you should bring it to your pediatrician’s attention at a checkup,” Dr. Brown said.

They should also give up this behavior by the time they reach three years old.

4. Grabbing ears

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Do not be easily panicked if your baby grabs their ears as this does not always mean that they have an ear infection.

According to Dr. Nelson, many parents often jump into the conclusion that their child might contract an ear infection while the baby may just discover that they have ears.

Grabbing ears is also very common to happen when the baby is teething, especially when the one-year molars are coming in.

5. Clenched fist

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Clenching fist means that the baby is stressing out because they are hungry. Immediately feed your baby when they clench their fist.

“I find that when babies are hungry, they often tense up all over,” said S. Michelle Long, a certified baby nurse in New York City.

6. Drawn up knees

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This is the sign that your baby may have digestive problems such as constipation, gas or stomach uneasiness.

“This position is usually a sign of abdominal discomfort, either from having gas, passing a bowel movement or being constipated,” Dr. Nelson said.

Try to ease their pain by helping them to burp or rub their back.

7. Arm jerks

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If this happens, your baby might get startled by some loud noise, bright light or a sudden movement. To avoid this, make sure that their surrounding is quiet and calm and swaddle them when they go to sleep.

The arm jerks should be gone by the time they reach three or four months old.

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