Communication with your newborn begins from the very first cuddle when you look, touch and smell each other.

A newborns’ main way of communicating is crying. This evolves rapidly over the next few weeks and months and you begin to understand each cry. Do not feel guilty responding to the crying as contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, you cannot spoil a newborn baby. He or she is crying to tell you they have a need.

Getting to know your baby occurs over time as you spend time focusing on your baby. Watching and wondering.

Understanding each other will enhance your bond and make for a more rewarding parenting experience.

Often parents find it tricky to distinguish what it is a baby needs when they cry however there are subtle little changes you may notice, even before the crying begins. However do not feel guilty if your baby continues to cry despite all your efforts: sometimes healthy babies just cry for no apparent reason.

In many cases crying is the last line of communication from your baby. He/she may have given you many subtle cues that they are hungry or tired for example however you have not been tuned in to their communication. Getting back to watching and wondering what they are telling you.

Following is a list of “cues” or subtle signs you can begin to recognize in your baby allowing you to meet his/her needs without the guess work in between:

Tired cues

  • Jerky movements
  • Rubbing eyes/face
  • Red eyebrows
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Yawning
  • Disengagement
  • Difficulty focusing-often going cross eyed
  • Closed fists

Engagement cues

  • Looking at your face
  • Turning their head towards you
  • Smiling
  • Smooth arm and leg movements
  • Wide, bright eyes
  • Bright, open face
  • Disengagement cues
  • Blank face
  • Turning away
  • Breaking eye contact
  • Kicking and squirming
  • Crying
  • Back arching

Hunger cues

  • Mouthing
  • Rooting reflex-searching
  • Sucking on hand or fist
  • Tongue movements
  • Clenched fists
  • Crying

“It is through our hands that we speak to the child, That we communicate. Touch is the child’s first language, Understanding comes long after feeling.”

Frederick Leboyer.

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  • I never did manage to work out the different cries, I still managed to work out what they wanted or needed though


  • It definitely makes all the difference in caring for your baby when you learn to read the cues and respond early rather than waiting for them to get so upset that they have to cry to communicate.


  • i wish i had seen this 3 years ago i was completely clueless!


  • Love these tips thank you for sharing


  • Careful observation and listening and you’ll soon know what baby is saying.


  • Good article and good advice there! Thank You.


  • It takes a while till you work out all the signs, but once you do life gets so much easier and more rewarding with a newborn.


  • I’m so much more aware of baby communication as a grandmother than I was as a mother! I notice so much about what my newest grandchild is trying to let me know, and wish I had known this stuff when I had my babies. There was a lot of trial and error in my parenting as I hadn’t had much to do with babies before that! I love watching today’s mums interacting with their babies, you are such an informed bunch : )


  • Rubbing eyes were also my tired cue.


  • Great tips. Wish I’d known these back when I had my first baby.


  • My friend introduced me to baby sign language which made it so much easier to communicate with bub!


  • thank you for the list of clues, that makes things a lot easier to interrpret


  • Taking the time to listen to your bub can be very rewarding, they really do tell us all we need to know!


  • thank you sharing this article good read


  • These are some great tips


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