Communication and Your Newborn
Do you remember your baby's very first cry? From the moment of birth, babies begin to communicate.
At first, your newborn's cries may seem like a foreign language. But before you know it, you'll learn your baby's ‘language’ and be able to answer your little one's needs.
How Babies Communicate
Babies are born with the ability to cry, which is how they communicate for a while. Your baby's cries generally tell you that something is wrong: an empty belly, a wet bottom, cold feet, being tired, or a need to be held and cuddled, etc.
Soon you'll be able to recognize which need your baby is expressing and respond accordingly. In fact, sometimes what a baby needs can be identified by the type of cry — for example, the ‘I'm hungry’ cry may be short and low-pitched, while ‘I'm upset’ may sound choppy.
Your baby may also cry when overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds of the world, or for no apparent reason at all. Don't be too upset when your baby cries and you aren't able to console him or her immediately: crying is one way babies shut out stimuli when they're overloaded.
Crying is a baby's main method of communication, but they're also capable of other, more subtle forms. Learning to recognize them is rewarding and can strengthen your bond with your baby.
A newborn can differentiate between the sound of a human voice and other sounds. Try to pay attention to how your little one responds to your voice, which he or she already associates with care: food, warmth, touch.
If your baby is crying in the bassinet, see how quickly your approaching voice quiets him or her. See how closely your baby listens when you talk in loving tones. Your baby may not yet coordinate looking and listening, but even when staring into the distance, he or she will be paying close attention to your voice as you speak. Your baby may subtly adjust body position or facial expression, or even move the arms and legs in time with your speech.
Sometime during your newborn's first month, you may get a glimpse of a first smile and perhaps hear that first laugh or giggle — welcome additions to your baby's communication skills!
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