Understanding newborn behaviors & cues
Did you know that newborns are “hard-wired” with a desire to socialize and communicate? Your baby works to find ways to let you know what they need and want, and if you truly watch your baby’s behaviors you’ll learn how to communicate sooner. Many parents guess that crying is how a newborn communicates, but in reality, crying is a baby’s last resort. There is always a behavior that comes before a cry.
Respond to cues proactively
Babies will use their hands and body movements to communicate; each time you respond to your baby, they become better at communicating with you. If you watch and respond to your newborn’s cues, you learn to become proactive instead of simply reactive to Baby’s cry. In fact, the evidence shows that by responding to infant cues, you can help to decrease the amount that your newborn cries. This is considered proactive responding to cues, as opposed to reactive responding only to cries. Allowing your baby access to their hands helps with self-soothing, but also allows your baby to “talk” with their hands and body movements. This is why you should swaddle your baby with access to one or both of their hands, and limit the use of baby mittens or hand coverings.
Types of newborn cues
There are two types of cues newborns use with their caregivers: cues to “connect” and cues to “disconnect.” Here a couple examples of these cues.
Cues to connect to caregiver:
- Relaxed face and body
- Gazing at your face or listening to your voice
- Raising their head
- Making feeding sounds & motions with their mouth
- Rooting reflex
- Bringing hands to Mouth
Cues to disconnect with caregiver:
- Turning head to the side and looking away
- Arching back and turning body
- Extending fingers with a stiff hand
- Tensing body
- Yawning or falling Asleep