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How to Understand Your Baby Cues & Behaviors

Your baby follows a pattern every few months. This can make parenting easier for you for a while. Before you take note of your baby’s pattern, you should first know the cues he makes when he needs something.

Your baby gives important signs when he is sleepy, bored, hungry, and full. When you miss these cues, your baby might become grumpy or uncomfortable. It can become difficult for you and for him.

How to Tell if the Baby is Hungry

According to research, crying is the last cue of being hungry. When your baby cries because of hunger, it may mean that he is already desperately hungry.

Feeding him at this period would increase the risk of getting a gassy stomach, which can make both of you uncomfortable.

Below are some of the usual signs that your baby is hungry.

  • Sucking the fist.
    When babies are hungry, they would suck on everything. If they have nothing to suck near them, they would suck their first instead.

    But, this is not a clear indicator that your baby is hungry. It could also mean that his gums are itchy. Your baby is hungry when he starts lip smacking after he sucked his fist.

    The lip smacking is actually the sign of curiosity. Your baby would be wondering why he could not taste anything from his fist. If your baby starts growling while sucking the fist, it could be a sign that he is frantically hungry.
  • Fidgeting or trying to lie on his side.
    By the time they are a week old, babies would already know that their parents turn them slightly to one side to feed them. When they are hungry, they would try to assume the position and try to grab anything near them.
  • Spanking.
    When you are holding the baby, you would know that he is hungry because he might spank you with his other hand, while sucking on his fist or on something he holds.
  • Opening his mouth wide when you touch his lips.
    This is called rooting. Your baby would open his mouth wide when you lightly touch his lips. When you move it along his face, he would follow your hand’s direction.

    When you notice this sign, you have to feed him fast. Rooting is another cue that your baby is becoming desperately hungry. If you miss that cue, your baby might start wailing.

How to Tell if Your Baby Is Full

It is important that your baby be fully fed during feeding time. If he does not finish his meal, it can disrupt his body cycle.

He would wake up earlier than usual because he is hungry. This could lead to lack of sleep on his part. He can become irritable and tired.

It is equally important that you also do not over feed your baby. Overfed babies tend to become sleepy before their sleeping time.

This might cause him to become less active, which can lead to problems with his physical and social development. Over-feeding also increases the risk of having gassy stomach.

Here are the signs that your baby is full:

  • Turns away from the bottle after 10 to 15 minutes of feeding.
    Babies may stop sucking the bottle or turns away from it during feeding time. It is not a real sign that he is full. It could be that he is only taking a break.

    But, if he turns away from the bottle after 10 to 15 minutes of feeding, it could mean that he is full. Try pushing the bottle to his mouth twice. If he continues to turn away, it would mean that he is full.
  • Gets very distracted.
    Babies below 12 months old have the basic instinct is to eat until he is full. He would not let anything distract his feeding time.

    The sudden movement or changes in the surrounding would startle him, but he would continue sucking if you put the nipple back in his mouth. When he refuses the bottle and focus on the distraction, he might be full.
  • Slows his sucking and spitting the milk.
    After a few minutes of feeding, the baby would slow down his sucking. This can be a sign that he is getting full.

    You would notice that some of the milk starts to spill from him mouth. The real sign is when he slows his sucking and spits the milk. Your baby could only be playing with his food.
  • Dozes off.
    Babies usually return to sleep after mealtime. When your baby starts to show signs of being sleepy, he might not be hungry anymore.

    However, he may not be full yet, too. Your baby is full when he starts to doze off and stops sucking on the nipple.

How to Tell if Your Baby Is Sleepy

Some parents think that their baby is sleepy when yawns.

This is wrong.

Yawning is a sign that your baby is tired and he needs to sleep to rest. If you keep the baby awake after he had yawned three times, you may end up with an irritable baby in your hands. So, before he starts becoming tired, you should give put him to sleep.

Here are some other signs that your baby is becoming sleepy:

  • Loses interest in what he was doing.
    They lose interest in what he was doing or in people around him. He would start pushing his toys or anyone away from him.
  • Stays in one corner and relaxes.
    This is common to babies who can already crawl. They stay away from their toys or the people around them and relax in one corner. If they are full and kept undisturbed, they might fall asleep on their own.
  • Heavy eyes. Babies can be stubborn, too.
    They may refuse to sleep even if their eyes are becoming heavy. When you notice that your baby is starting to close his eyes, but opens it again to continue what he was doing, he might be getting tired. If he starts to rub his eyes, you better get him to sleep.
  • Stretches.
    Some babies stretches without yawning when they are sleepy. Babies, who are less than four months old, would clutch their hands into fists, curl their toes, and stay still. Older babies would straighten their back and knees.
  • Frowning or wrinkling his forehead.
    This is usually the sign that your baby is becoming grumpy. This often happens after he yawned and you still do not put him too sleep.

    If you miss this cue and continue to distract the baby, he would cry and become grumpy. You would have more trouble putting him to sleep.

How to Tell if Your Baby Is Bored

Babies do not only eat and sleep all the time. They also have wakeful hours. This usually starts an hour after they woke up and may end a few minutes before their napping or sleeping time.

Studies show that when your baby or toddler wakes up, he would be half-asleep for almost an hour. If you would not distract them during this hour, they might return to sleep. If they do not fall back to sleep, they would start exploring.

Babies do not usually get bored when they are alone. The things around them can entertain them. You do not have to entertain or be with them every minute of their waking hours.

According to research, babies only need an hour or two of adult-introduced stimulation or external stimulation. This few hours is enough to develop the vocabulary and their social skills.

However, if you left them in the same place for a long time, with nothing new to stimulate them, they would become bored. You would know that they are when they show these signs:

  • Changes from one toy to another.
    According to research, younger babies would play with their toys longer before switching to another toy.

    When they have played enough with all the toys around them, they would pick up the toy, play for it in seconds, and push it aside. Then, they move to another toy and do the same thing.
  • Starts kicking their feet.
    Babies and bigger kids are the same. When they are bored, they would have restless feet. Your babies would start kicking their feet, or rubbing them together when they are bored.
  • Leaves or tries to escape the crib.
    This happens when your baby is old enough to crawl or stand. When they get bored in their playroom or corner, they would try to explore other things. They would crawl out of their spot or try to climb the crib.
  • Calls your attention.
    When babies become bored by their alone time, they would call your attention. Newborns would usually cry. Older kids would crawl towards you or give you their toys. It is a sign that they want an interaction with you and they are bored with what they have.

    According to child psychologists, do not jump and entertain your babies upon waking up. They may get used to external stimulation that they might require it more. They could become more dependent and clingy.