It is amazing; your baby can communicate with you right away. They do not need words to let their mothers know when they need to eat, play, rest or be changed, or simply held and loved. The noises and movements that your baby makes may seem random, but they are actually signals, called cues, that will help you meet your baby’s needs. These messages are called engagement cues, disengagement cues and cluster cues.
When your baby wants to interact with you or anyone nearby they will start exhibiting engagement cues. The will make distinctive moves and noises that are specific to wanting to engage with people. Babies will have their eyes open wide and will look at toys and people like they are trying to memorize what they see. Their body movements will be smooth and they will be in a relaxed state. When your baby is older he or she will try to touch and taste the things that interest them. Babies who are very excited will squirm and kick their legs.
When you see that baby is exhibiting engagement cues you know that they are ready to learn more about the world around them. Newborns will just want to look at your face and listen to your voice. As your baby gets older they will want to play games with you. This is a great time to enjoy your baby, but watch carefully for signs that they are getting tired.
When your baby needs a rest your will start to see disengagement cues. Babies exhibit these signs when they need a nap or a break from what they are doing. Disengagement cues are an entirely different set of noises and movements. When baby has had enough he or she will begin to arch their backs and twist away from you. Your baby will become tense and will start to frown. If you do not give baby a break he or she will begin to cry to let you know that it is time to stop. When your baby gets a little older they may try to cover their face and may want you to pick them up or put them down.
When you see these clues give your baby a break. It is time to stop what you are doing and reduce environmental distractions. You can turn down the lights or make it quieter in the room. Your baby may just need a short break or an entire change of scenery. Babies cannot communicate very well so you need to pay attention to whether your efforts are stopping the disengagement cues. If you pick up a fussy baby and they try to turn away from you, it might be an indication that something else is bothering them. You have to be a detective and find out what in baby’s world is upsetting them. Maybe your television is too loud or they do not like the way your dinner smells. Sometimes it is obvious what is bothering them and sometimes it is not.
When a baby needs something important they will use clustered cues. It cannot be hard for people to figure out that a baby is hungry or they would never get to eat. When your baby is hungry he or she will give you lots of clues that it is time to eat. Hungry newborns will turn their heads and look for something to suck on. They will also bring their hands and knees up and start to make sucking noises. Babies do not like to wait, so if you do not get them food right away they will do all of these clustered cues and cry. Older babies will reach towards a bottle or spoon with excitement.
When baby is full they will also let you know with clustered cues. Their muscles will relax and they will slow down their eating. Your baby’s hands will fall away from their face and they may even fall asleep. It is important that you also learn your baby’s clues for being full.
When you respond to your babies cues he or she will get better at using them to tell you what they need. Not all babies are born with the ability to give clear clues, but nature makes sure mother and child can learn to understand each other. You will develop your own language with your baby. As your child gets older this language develops and extends into the time when they begin using words, nevertheless, you will always have a special way to communicate with your baby.