How to read your baby’s cues

Our babies are each unique; they have different tastes and preferences, they learn at different rates and in different ways and react differently to certain interactions.

As each child experiences the world in his or her own way, we need to understand their sensory temperament or personality (some children can tolerate high levels of stimulation, while others are more sensitive) in order to regulate their environment. Too much or too little stimulation will not allow them to learn optimally and can lead to boredom on one end or anxiety and distress on the other.

Babies communicate their feelings to us via a language of signals, and the key is getting to know your baby so you can learn his or her cues. We need to learn what our children can and cannot tolerate in terms of stimulation in order to create the right environment for fun, learning, and rest.

Here is a quick guide to reading baby’s cues and readiness to play and learn:

Signs of enjoyment:

Watch out for smiling, cooing, gurgling and looking at you. Kicking of arms and legs or a calm, alert state are signs that show baby is ready for fun and is inviting you to play.

What to do?

This is the optimal time to do stimulating activities together. Get ready to play!

Signs of disinterest:

Watch out for moaning, back arching, starting to cry and avoiding eye contact. These signs show your baby has had enough for now and is at risk of becoming overstimulated.

What to do?

It’s time to end the interaction for now and have some quiet time together.

Signs of overstimulation:

Watch out for hiccups, flushed cheeks, pallor or loss of colour in the cheeks, arms flailing or pupils dilating. If your baby is overly quiet or overly vocal (whichever is out of character for your child) or begins crying, he could be overstimulated and needs the opportunity to calm.

What to do?

Try rocking him in your arms in a quiet room, or covering the front of the pram to cut out noise, sights and light, if you’re out and about.

Carly Tzanos