It may feel like you’ve been dropped in a foreign country but don’t speak the language, and in a way you have, its called parenthood!
Wouldn’t it be easier if your baby could just say, “Hey mom! I need some milk!” or “Hey Dad, I’m ready for my swaddle now!” Oh how we all wish we knew what our little tinies were thinking. I’m sure at one time or another you’ve said, “I wish I knew what was going on in your little brain!” Well parents, I’m here to tell you, you actually can! Your baby does communicate with you, unfortunately we just don’t speak the same language. So it’s our job as parents to learn their language and begin to respond to what they’re telling us they need.
How does your baby communicate? Through body movements, facial cues, and sounds! Here are some examples:
Yes, some of these may seem so obvious. But timing is everything when it comes to babies, and by the time we pick up on our baby’s obvious communication cues, it’s often too late! It’s the subtle cues that we need to learn to respond to. It probably feels like, my baby was fine and playing and then 3-2-1 BAM! Crying hysterically, rigid body, inconsolable. At this point your baby is simply overtired and you begin the tug-of-war where baby is screaming but just won’t go to sleep (For tips on calming baby). Over tiredness not only leads to struggles getting your baby to sleep, but also results in less consecutive sleep due to the production of adrenaline and cortisol hormones that occurs when baby is not offered a nap in time. While babies do cycle from awake to sleep quicker than most realize, often your baby was actually giving you a heads up and communicating, “Hey mom, I’m feeling a little sleepy” before the more obvious hysteria struck. Your baby (4-12 weeks) is most often going to stay awake for 60-90 minutes. Sometime even shorter! Each baby has their sweet spot for going down for sleep and once you learn your baby’s sleep cues you’ll be able to identify your baby’s sweet spot too. It’s important to remember that each baby’s cues will look different, and your baby may not display each and every cue associated with a certain state.
Here are some general guidelines and if your baby is displaying some or all of these cues, they’re most likely telling you something!
Let’s look at baby’s at the stages of sleepy time cues:
Your baby may not display the cues above in any predictable order or may not consistently display the same cues, that’s ok. That’s why it is also important to keep track of your child’s awake windows to determine the estimated time range your child will be needing to go down for a nap. In order to understand sleepy cues, we need to know what a content and ready to learn baby looks like too. When your baby is in an alert, ready to learn state they’re most likely quiet, exhibiting little movement or movement that is more controlled and purposeful, have steady eye contact or focus on an object, you may hear soft coos, or see some smiles.
It may feel like you’ve been dropped in a foreign country but don’t speak the language, and in a way you have, its called parenthood! But with these tools, you’ll be fluently speaking your baby’s language in no time!