Baby's body language: Here is how to decode it

Infants can't communicate through words. They express themselves through body language only. So, it is essential for you to be able to read your baby's body language to figure out what she is feeling.

Your baby can't talk to you. But this bundle of joy can definitely make his or her joys and distress very clear with body language and signs. The signs could be anything from crying and hiccups to even incessant sucking of thumbs and wrists. The trick is in understanding what she is trying to say. Stay alert and be quick in your response to your baby's body language. This will help you to address her troubles on time. Keep your eyes open and follow our smart tips to read the signals that your little one sends. Here, we decode 10 of them for you.


Babies cry. This is a fact. But the way a baby cries can hold clues to any signs of discomfort or pain. A baby usually cries when hungry, afraid or in pain. But how do you know what the crying means? Spanish researchers from the University of Murcia and the National University of Distance Education (UNED) studied 20 babies between 3 and 18 months. They found that a baby closes eyes when crying in pain and keeps it open when hungry. If it is because of fear, eyes will be half closed. The study was published in the Spanish Journal of Psychology.

Your action: Make sure your baby is comfortable. If in pain or fear, use soothing words and consult your doctor. It could be a stomach ache or any other discomfort that might need medical attention.

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Fast breathing

At times, you will notice that your baby is breathing very fast. Maybe, she is just excited and happy. But it could also be a reaction to fear.

Your action: Calm your baby down and spend some time with her. Play with her and indulge in some baby talk.

Knees against stomach

Does your baby sleep with her knees drawn up tightly against her stomach? He could be suffering from some digestive problem. It could be a stomach ache or discomfort because of gas. Constipation can also make your baby lie down in this position.

Your action: Make sure your baby burps properly after every feed. If you are breastfeeding, avoid food that causes gas. If this doesn't help, talk to a doctor.

Arched back

This could be a reaction to pain. A baby might be trying to lessen the pain by arching his or her back. It could be reflux, gas or colic pain. If she does it in the middle of feeding, it could be heartburn.

Your action: Gently massage the stomach area and back. This will give him relief. Avoid feeding and comfort her. Talk to your doctor and see if anything else needs to be done.

Kicking in the air

A child kicks in the air. This is normal and indicates a happy mood. It could also just be excitement. But if she is grouchy and crying while kicking, your baby's body language could be trying to tell you something. It could be a sign that she is in discomfort.

Your action: See if her stomach is bloated or if she simply needs a change of diapers. If her stomach is bloated, her kicking could be a reaction to gas. If she is happy, encourage her kicking. This will develop the muscles in her legs.

Closed fists

In infants below 2 months, this is very common, and it is called the palmar grasp reflex. But if your baby is more than two months old, a clenched fist might mean stress or hunger

Your action: Feed her and comfort her. But if this continues beyond 3 months, it is better to consult a doctor.

Banging of head

Most of the time, babies indulge in a rhythmic motion with their heads because it soothes them. But if they start banging their head against the floor or walls, it is time to take notice. It could indicate pain or irritability.

Your action: Don't ignore it thinking that it is just irritation. Call your baby's doctor immediately. There could be some serious health issues like eye sight problem or chronic pain. A doctor will be better equipped to handle this.

Pulling ears

Most of the time, a baby's body language does not mean that you should panic. A baby might pull her ears just because they are there and well within reach. But sometimes it can indicate an ear infection.

Your action: Don't panic. Sometimes babies pull their ears while teething. Check to see if he has fever or a stuffy nose. This can indicate an ear infection. Also, keep an eye on her naps. If she sleeps peacefully and does not have fever, most probably, it is nothing serious.

Rubbing the eyes

This could be a sign of tiredness. Your baby just wants to sleep. But, to be on the safe side, just check her eyes. There could be an irritation in her eyes due to an infection.

Your reaction: If her eyes are fine, take her in your arms and gently rock her to sleep. If her eyes are red or watery, you need to consult a paediatrician.

Sudden jerks in arms

This is also called the Moro reflex and is fairly common in almost all babies. This is a reflex to sudden and unexpected movements. It may be caused by fear and apprehension. Loud noises and sudden bright light can also cause this reaction.

Your action: Try not to startle your baby with any sudden movements. Move gradually. If you are placing him on his bed, do so gently with support from your body.

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