Baby Body Language: The Basics

Your baby didn’t come packaged with an owner’s manual, but her body language can tell you plenty, including what she wants and needs from you. Some of those early body signals are hard-wired — more instinctual than intentional — but as grows little older she’ll use her body language to communicate a whole lot more. Here’s a quick guide to baby body language.

“One moment my one month old will be almost asleep. Then suddenly, for no reason at all, she’ll fling her arms and legs out and start wailing.”

Your baby is startling in response to a noise or a movement. Try blocking out some of the background noise (a white noise machine works amazingly well) and swaddling your baby in a light-weight blanket so she’ll be less likely to startle herself awake. By the time your baby is five or six months old, your baby will have outgrown this particular reflex and sleeping more soundly. ”

“If my newborn’s face rubs against my shoulder while I’m carrying him across the room, he starts bobbing his head up and down.”

Your baby is bound and determined to find a breast. He’s just a little off when it comes to basic geography. And why not? It’s a strategy that’s served babies since the beginning of time. When babies feel something rubbing the corner of their mouths they open up wide and “root” in the direction of the stroking in the hope that a nipple will magically present itself. And often it does!

“Sometimes my baby and I will be playing with a toy — and then she’ll start fussing and look away.”

That’s her way of saying that, “Hey, it’s been fun, but I’ve had enough.” Respect your baby’s need for a break. See if you can get her down for a nap or — at the very least — put away that too-cool educational toy and ease into a quieter, more soothing activity.

“My baby has this strange habit of breathing really rapidly when he’s excited. And then his feet get in on the act, too.”

Don’t you love the way babies use their entire bodies to express enthusiasm? If only we grownups could cut lose like that a little more often — breathing heavily to say how happy we are when someone we love walks through the door and kicking our feet with joy when our favorite veggie finds its way to the dinner table.

“Sometimes my seven-month-old cries because I can’t get the food to her mouth quickly enough. Other times, I can’t even get her to open her mouth. She’ll turn her face away and ignore me completely.”

Your baby’s appetite varies from one feeding to the next and — like all babies — she knows how to make it perfectly clear when dinner is over. Learn to read and respect your baby’s fullness cues. She’s the best judge of how much food she needs.

“Yesterday, my eight-month-old started acting sleepy during lunch. By the time she finished her lunch, she was completely hysterical. Then she wouldn’t take her nap!”

In the world of babies, there’s tired and then there’s overtired. The secret to getting babies to settle down to sleep is to spot the signs of tiredness before your baby enters the no man’s land of overtiredness: quiet calmness rather than fussiness or frantic crying.

Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues

What are the signs of postpartum depression vs. simple “baby blues” (a.k.a. the “postpartum blues”)?
The “baby blues” (a.k.a. the “postpartum blues”) typically peak four to five days after you give birth and fade away around the tenth day postpartum, as your body makes the hormonal transition from a pregnant to a non-pregnant state.
While the baby blues feel decidedly awful while you’re living through them (the result of the dramatic hormonal upheaval that you’re experiencing combined with the other physiological and emotional stresses challenges of the early days postpartum), the feelings of depression that you may experience are much less severe than what you can expect to experience with full-blown postpartum depression. Even more importantly, the baby blues are relatively short-lived. You start feeling more “normal” (or as normal as any mom with a new baby can be expected to feel) within a week or two.
While all mothers are at risk of developing postpartum depression or some other type of postpartum mood disorder (e.g., postpartum anxiety, for example), postpartum depression is more likely to occur in women:

  • who have a history of postpartum depression (they face a 50-62 percent risk of experiencing a recurrence);
  • who have experienced a previous episode of depression themselves (they have a 30 percent risk of developing postpartum depression) or
  • who have a family history of mood disorders, a history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (but not necessarily the milder and better known version of this disorder, premenstrual syndrome);
  • who have a lot of other stress in their lives; and who don’t have adequate support from friends and family.

When postpartum depression occurs, it is most likely to occur during the early months after the birth after giving birth. An episode of postpartum depression typically lasts from two to six months, although it is not unusual for a mother to still be experiencing some symptoms of postpartum depression a year after giving birth.

Basics of Baby Teeth and Teething

Many people are not aware that prevention of dental diseases can be started as soon as a child is born. From the seventh to the ninth (last) months of pregnancy, the primary baby teeth are just about to be fully formed in the bone. Development of permanent teeth begins at birth.

Even before the teeth show, it is possible, and in fact recommended, that an infant’s mouth to be cleaned. Lightly dab the gum pads in a baby’s mouth with a clean damp, soft cloth. This will decrease the germs that form in the mouth, and begin the healthy practice of dental care.

An infant is also recommended to have a dental check-up in as early as 12 months of age. Pediatric dentists suggest that a baby’s first dental visit should be before all 20 primary teeth have completely erupted. This first visit is for a complete exam and evaluation. It is also for parents to be educated with proper dental care for infants at home, and the recommended diet proper use of toothbrushes and fluoride for infants.

Once the teething starts and first tooth erupts, which occurs about as early as six months, others follow until all 20 baby teeth are in. During teething, a lot of babies experience discomfort that is seen when they become irritable, drool a lot, suck on their toys, blankets, or fingers, and lose their appetite. When a baby gets a fever, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms, it is best to consult a pediatrician. Hard, cool teething toys and frequent drinks of water can ease the teething discomfort.

Below is a list to remember after the teeth erupt.

– Do not let sweet or sweetened liquids to stay in a baby’s mouth for a long time. These lead to early dental decay.

– During feedings, always hold the baby and the bottle. Not only it could choke the infant, the milk or juice can bring cavities while in contact with the new teeth. When the baby falls asleep during feeding, remove bottle from his/her mouth. If a bottle is needed to get the baby to sleep, fill it will water instead of milk or juice.

– Do limit the use of sippy cups. The use of those can lead to cavities and other dental problems such as misalignment of teeth.

– Start a healthy eating habit by regulating intake of sweetened beverages and food. Do not spoil your baby with sweets, because it will eventually lead to dental problems with his or her primary teeth.

– Educate yourself with fluoride supplements for babies. This will help make your baby’s teeth stronger and prevent tooth decay without using a normal adult’s toothpaste.

– When a baby is learning to walk, or can walk already, do not let the child walk with a bottle or sippy cup in his/her mouth. Be watchful to dental injuries.

When a baby grows with proper dental care, the routine will become his/her practice until he/she grows old. It will be a healthy habit that will help create a positive self-image.