The Brightside - Reading Cues from Your Baby
THE BRIGHTSIDE: READING CUES FROM YOUR BABY.
Being able to read the subtle cues from your baby will become your greatest asset for nurturing sleep and feeding routines as you go through the journey of parenthood.
Babies experience two kinds of hunger: the hunger for milk and the hunger for sensory experience. From the moment they are born, they rely heavily on smells, touch, sounds and visual cues like facial expressions to connect with their caregivers. They are biologically wired to seek and connect, and faces play a crucial role in this process.
Have you noticed the way your baby lights up when they catch a glimpse of your face? It's an extraordinary moment of connection! Babies are captivated by the human face, especially their parents. They observe your expressions, learn from them, and seek comfort and security in your smile. Maintaining eye contact and responding with warm facial expressions creates a powerful bond that fosters their emotional development.
So, during feeding and sleep routines, remember to engage with your baby, make eye contact and smile. These simple actions let them know they are safe and loved.
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Feeding time is an intimate and nurturing experience, allowing you to provide your baby with the sustenance they need to grow and thrive. However, babies have unique ways of indicating when they're hungry or full. By learning to read their cues, you can establish a harmonious feeding routine.
Babies communicate their hunger through various signals. They might smack their lips, suck on their fingers, or make rooting movements with their mouths. Crying is usually a late hunger cue, so it's beneficial to recognise these earlier signs. Responding promptly to your baby's hunger cues will help them feel secure and avoid excessive fussiness.
Just as babies communicate when they're hungry, they also let you know when they've had enough. Signs of fullness can include turning their head away, pushing the bottle or breast away, or simply becoming disinterested in feeding. Respect these cues and avoid forcing your baby to continue eating beyond what they need. Trusting their instincts will help establish a healthy relationship with food as they grow.
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Ah, sleep, the magic potion for babies (and tired parents!). Understanding your baby's sleep cues can make nap time and bedtime routines smoother and more peaceful.
Babies exhibit several signs when they're ready for sleep. Look out for yawning, rubbing their eyes, becoming fussy or irritable, or losing interest in playtime. Understanding and responding to these signals can help you create a consistent sleep routine, ensuring your little one gets the restorative sleep they need.
This is a trickier one to manage. Babies have varying needs when it comes to sensory stimulation. The hunger for sensation is still poorly understood in our society. Parents are still very commonly advised to avoid 'overstimulating' their baby in order to promote sleep and settled behaviour. This belief came from the 1950s and 1960s version of behaviourism. However, it ignores important aspects of new infant neuroscience. Easily agitated or fussy behaviour can just as often be a cue that your baby needs more sensory stimuli as much as it can be an indication that they need quiet time and a break from stimulation. Take in cues from your baby and consider whether they have had enough sensory stimulation during daily activities versus not enough.
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If you would like to delve further into the world of baby cues, here are a few recommended articles and websites with a wealth of information:
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