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How to Read a Newborn’s Signals

Your newborn enters the world as a little bundle of joy and mystery. It will be years before your child can clearly explain his wants and needs, so how can you begin to understand who he is now?

You’ll find that your infant has is born with a unique personality.

He may be calm, cheerful and easily pacified or he may be feisty and temperamental. Whatever your child’s disposition, watch his body language and facial expressions closely to understand his mode of communication.


6 Steps to to Read a Newborn’s Signals

Read a Newborn's Signals

1. Take Time to Evaluate Your Newborn’s Cry

The slightest whimper can be a source of tremendous anxiety for parents. It can be tempting simply to pacify your newborn with a bottle or pacifier. Instead, take a few deep breathes and assess your child’s condition.

Consider when he was last fed, whether his diaper may be wet, or if he may be too hot or too cold. Eventually, you’ll become a confident interpreter of your baby’s cries.


2. Feed Your Newborn as soon as He Shows Signs of hunger

Infants are born with a rooting reflex. They’ll turn toward you if you touch their cheek lightly with your finger, a bottle or the breast. In a few weeks, however, rooting becomes intentional. Don’t wait until your baby starts crying.

Offer the breast or bottle as soon as he starts snuggling into you for a meal. Other signs of hunger may include lip smacking, sucking and opening and closing of the mouth.


3. Look for a Smile

Between six and eight weeks most newborns start to smile. At first, it may be a reflex reaction to something comforting such as a warm bottle of milk or a soft blanket. Before long, however, your newborn will smile intentionally at you and other familiar faces.


4. Start the Bedtime Routine as soon as Your Infant Shows Signs of Tiredness

Newborns transition very quickly from alert, wakefulness to sleep. If you wait too long to put your little one to bed, he’ll be overtired, cranky and irritable. Your newborn may be sleepy if he is rubbing his face or ears and yawning.


5. Give your Baby a Break

It can be hard to tear yourself away from your little one, but too much face-to-face contact can be overwhelming for an infant. If your newborn turns his head to avert his gaze, allow him to rest. Once he turns back toward you, resume talking and smiling.


6. Look for Signs of Discomfort

Back arching is a classic sign that a newborn needs a change of position. He may be done nursing and wish to move away from the breast, or he made need to burp after a meal. If your child arches his back, cries and can’t seem to be consoled, he may have reflux or colic. Talk to your pediatrician about reflux treatments.


Tip and Warning
If your newborn exhibits any of the following warning signs, contact emergency medical services immediately: inconsolable crying, rapid breathing, pale or blue skin color, failure to urinate in the first 24 hours or move his bowels in the first 48 hours, unwillingness to wake for feedings, yellow coloring of the eyes, extremities, or chest, difficulty breathing and a rectal temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.


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How to Read a Newborn's Signals


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