In time, a new parent often does begin to understand the meaning behind each unique whimper and cry. They can discern the meaning of each look, decode and comprehend every gesture, and act accordingly.
It sure became easier the second time around, when my first child’s little sister was born. My husband and I can read those hungry and tired cues like you wouldn’t believe.
You start to be able to recognize the secret language of babies quite easily even in other people’s children, as well. It really is amazing how universal certain sounds and looks and gestures are across all of baby-dom. We’re all humans, after all, and have many, many things in common, starting the minute we are born (or even earlier, I suppose).
If you are a new or expectant parent and aren’t quite privy to which sound means what, why in the world the baby won’t stop crying, or what in the hell to do next, you’re not alone. It takes time to become comfortable with the baby code.
And until you’ve settled in and gotten familiar with it all, never fear. I’ll lay out for you here, with a wink and a grin, 15 things a baby wishes mom would understand.
15 My Way Or The Highway
Many new parents fail to understand this one before it’s, plain and simple, too late: “If you don’t try out a bottle before too long, I’m gonna refuse to eat from anything other than those sweet, sweet bosoms.”
And some of us (ahem) really don’t think we’ll need to use a bottle or see why we should bother. Then, the time comes that we either want or desperately need someone else to be able to feed our baby at least once a day, and… no bust. We’re out of luck.
Talk to your own doctors and nurses, but here’s what I’ve been told and experienced: If you offer a bottle (either of expressed milk or formula) after breastfeeding is “firmly established” but not too long after, the baby should get the hang of it in no time.
If you do not, the baby may refuse to eat from anything but mom.
14 Bummed When Bloated
This thing will happen… Your baby will be crying and crying until she’s red in the face. It will seem so sudden and out of the blue, and you’ll wonder in desperation what in the world is wrong.
And then she’ll fart.
“When I’m gassy, I feel really, really grumpy,” the baby would like you to understand.
Once you have heard, understood, and accepted this very simple fact, you will not be as powerless as you might think to cope with it.
If you lay your babe on his back, say, on the changing pad, and gently press the knees toward the chest in a repeated motion, you may really be able to help that extra air to escape and give baby some sweet relief (as he makes a sweet release…).
When babies cry a lot, they can swallow a lot of air, so avoiding overly tired and overly hungry situations as possible (ha… it’s not always) may help prevent the whole ordeal, as can avoiding certain foods as a nursing mother.
13 Cool With Cozy
Imagine how snug and warm and comfortable it was in that womb. It’s all kinds of floaty and cozy up in there. On top of all of this, it’s the only environment a little baby has ever known!
That’s why the baby wishes you could hear and understand when he tries to convey, “Dude, Mom, I want to nap on your warm, snuggly body.”
Of course, newborns can seem to fall asleep just about anywhere. But as the weeks go by, you’ll notice your little guy or gal developing a strong preference for wanting to fall asleep in your warm, supportive, and lovin’ arms.
That’s why after a few months or more, many parents take on some form of “sleep training,” essentially very intentionally guiding their baby to learn how to fall asleep on their own.
12 Starvin’ Over Here
Does it seem like you JUST nursed or bottle fed the baby, and yet she’s crying and cranky again?
Well newborns eat like every two hours at first, and for quite some time, in fact, as I quite clearly recall from just a few short months ago in my parenthood journey. This is every two hours from the start of one feeding to the start of another.
Let’s say you start a feeding at 10 a.m. It lasts 20 minutes on the left breast and another 10 minutes on the right. The baby falls asleep for an hour in your arms, and you check your phone quickly, shove some food in your mouth, and stifle a yawn before junior wakes up. You change the diaper, and then, guess what? It’s feeding time again!
Baby wishes you’d get it through your head: “My stomach is super-duper small, so I want to eat like as soon as I’m done eating.” (Follow your own baby’s cues and doctor’s instructions.)
11 Enough’s Enough
Yes, there’s the yawn, and the eye rub. Those are classic expressions of the common baby sentiment “DAMN, I’m tired!”
But these cues and others can also mean a baby is overwhelmed or overstimulated... or bored.
“If I turn away or rub my ear, I want some quiet time,” your babe may being trying her darndest to tell you.
It’s easy to think a baby, when awake, needs constant interaction and stimulation, but just like us big grown-up people, they sometimes need some quiet time to just sort of let things sink in, explore a bit, or have a quiet thought.
Sometimes, you’ll think you have the cues all figured out, only to have to start at the top of your “WTF is wrong???” list all over again. Tired? Hungry? Overstimulated? Wet or dirty diaper? And the list goes on.
10 Brace Yourself For The Blowout
New parents sometimes marvel at the quite hilarious tendency of their babies to stop in their tracks, look mom or dad straight in the eye, and grunt out a huge dump.
It can be funny at first, perhaps just because we aren’t used to making eye contact with others as we or they do a number two.
Well get used to it, and know that the baby might just want you to go ahead and accept that “If I stop in the middle of playing and lock eyes as I grunt, brace yourself for diaper duty.”
And it will happen quite often at first, multiple times, in most cases, throughout each day – and night.
Eventually, some babies settle into a pattern of one deuce (approximately) each day, but there’s a whole range out there.
And don’t worry, your nose won’t deceive you.
9 Let It Ring, Mom
“Your singing voice is the best sound to ever ring out in this world, so please, please, please sing to me every day,” the baby probably wants you to know.
Ah, that voice is already so familiar from those many months spent in the comfort of the womb. It means food. It means comfort. It means protection. In a word: survival.
And you should see the way many babies almost instantly, if not slowly but surely, calm down once their mama starts to sing.
With my first, I developed quite the routine of song and dance to get her to go to sleep each time in those early months, but after she’d left behind the “I’ll fall asleep anywhere” newborn phase (that phase does not last long).
It doesn’t matter if you or anyone else thinks you’re a “good” singer, either.
8 Let It Out
You’ve gone through the checklist from your baby book or hospital packet. The baby is not tired. The baby is not hungry. The baby’s diaper is both very clean and exceptionally dry. The child’s clothes are not rubbing or chafing or too hot or too cold or uncomfortable in any way, shape, or form. You’ve changed environments. You’ve tried the motion of dance, a gentle jiggle, a jaunt in the stroller, and a cruise in the care.
And the baby is STILL CRYING.
Listen up to what your baby has to tell you, new parents: “Sometimes, I just need to cry. You of all people should understand that.”
And it will stop. And until then, you can just keep on running through that check list as patiently as a saint until something works.
(And your instincts will likely tell you if something is truly wrong and it’s time to head in to see the doctor. If in doubt, why not call?)
7 Scary Snips
It’s small. It’s sharp. It’s cold. It’s foreign-looking. It’s nail clippers, and I’ve never yet met a baby who loves them. Or a mom, for that matter. Many moms admit to never once even attempting to use them on their babies’ growing nails. Others confess to trying them out, only to cut the nails too short and have a bleeding baby finger to deal with (and feel SUPER bad about).
Babies don’t like to sit perfectly calm and still and let you do things like give them pedicures. That won’t come until much, much later. So if the baby flails arms about, rolls away with all of his or her strength, or even screams and cries, there may be something they’d like very much to ask you: “How about you let me cut YOUR nails?”
6 Just Like Mommy
That rather limp, warm, beautiful little thing will so, so quickly be holding its head upright, reaching, grabbing, and making all sorts of “mischief.” It really, really, really wants to learn – to get going with this whole living-life thing.
My little baby tells my husband and I every day periodically, “I CANNOT WAIT to drink from a real water glass and eat that colorful multi-textured stuff you’ve got on your plate,” and I bet yours might be trying to tell you the same.
Within reason, why not indulge the little fella or gal?
A sip from a big-person water glass might be tons of fun (for babies old enough to be drinking a bit of water), and if some water dribbles on their shirt, well that’s not the end of the world.
5 Dental Dilemmas
Somewhere at, what, 4 to 9 months, your normally soundly sleeping (and quick to fall asleep) baby may suddenly not snore quite so soundly and not drift off to dreamland quite so easily.
Your baby’s rather happy and easygoing disposition may suddenly seem to change.
You may hear him or her scream and cry for many minutes on end like you never remember her doing before – or certainly not so loudly.
With a clean finger, gently reach in and feel those gums for signs of teeth getting ready to poke through.
What the baby may be trying to tell you is, “There’s no way you remember how much it sucks to grow a bunch of new teeth. You expect me to sleep like this??”
The first to come in will usually be the bottom center two. Some babies get noticeably cranky about it, and some don’t (not until the molars later on, anyway…).
4 Motion Or Commotion?
“I like riding in the car. When I’m tired. Sometimes,” the baby may be trying to communicate to you in so many ways.
I’ve found that it’s all about timing, but that you also just can’t always control how things are going to go (welcome to parenthood, and brace yourself for the toddler years…).
I honestly haven’t braved any very long car rides with my very young kids. I know that it there’s pretty much nothing that would ever be worth it, for me, personally.
We’re talking like three hours max. That’s it. And that, even, may take some convincing.
But I have noticed that my second baby tends to have an easier time falling asleep and staying happy in the car. Maybe it’s because I’m even better at reading her moods, needs, and dispositions and timing things well… I don’t know, though, because sometimes when it’s time to set off for a trip or make it to an appointment, you’ve just gotta go.
But planning to leave a bit before nap time and also before the baby becomes overly tired is a decent tactic. A full tummy helps, too.
3 Painful Posterior
It could be because your baby is feeling constipated after staring solid foods. It could be that there’s been a lot of wiping down there of late, leaving things feeling sort of raw. It could be that urine sitting on the skin in a wet diaper for a bit too long has caused baby to develop a rash.
But through crying, fussiness, and general markers of discomfort, the baby may be trying to tell you one simple phrase: “My butt hurts!!!”
Diaper cream is your friend. I’m tellin’ ya, this stuff can be quite amazing. The trick is to make sure the skin is completely dry before applying it, so that it doesn’t just continue to lock the moisture in and exacerbate the problem. A red, raw-looking or rash-y bottom can look like healthy smooth baby skin in a matter of hours or days sometimes. Hooray!
Many moms also swear by letting them “air out,” or spend some time without a diaper on.
2 Eager Beaver
You should see even a rather small baby’s eyes as he or she watches an older sibling, cousin, or stranger at the park scamper about gleefully. As the baby gets older, arms and legs may start to flail wildly with quite obvious excitement, all as a manner of saying, “I’m gonna run so fast once I figure out how to stand up.”
The zest for life these babies have is truly a sight to behold. It may, or rather almost definitely will, I’d say, give you a whole new love for your own (life, that is).
They aren’t jaded. They don’t take things like being outside in the fresh air for granted.
They still see that running around on the soft grass is magic. They know that rolling around on the carpet surrounded by your family is what really matters.
1 Magic Maker
Yes, there will be pooping – lots of it. And yes, it may be challenging at times to care for, groom, and generally understand what exactly is going on with a baby or very young child.
But here’s one last phrase you should always, always keep in mind that a baby might speak to you if they could: “You are some kind of wondrous magician.”
They don’t even understand object permanence at first, so each time you produce that toy from the basket in the corner, it may be like you’ve conjured it up out of nothing.
Each smile you give, each song you sing, and each cuddle and hug mean delight, comfort – everything — to your sweet little babe.
If you’re taking the time to be concerned that you’re properly understanding a baby’s cues, you’re being a caring and loving parent, which is all a baby really needs, right?