How to Decode Non-Verbal Communication and the Possible Meanings: Understanding Baby’s Cues & Body Language

How to Decode Non-Verbal Communication and the Possible Meanings: Understanding Baby’s Cues & Body Language

At times, new parents and caregivers often get overwhelmed by the fact that they can’t understand their baby’s cues and body language properly. Fret not; it is very common! Obviously, they can’t talk to you, but through non-verbal cues like cries, smiles, noises, and body language, they try to convey their needs.

Well, you don’t need a Communications Degree to decode your little one’s non-verbal communication. All you need is a little patience, and you’re good to go! Here’s a detailed breakdown of the different types of non-verbal cues that you can keep an eye on. Read on to find out!

Importance Of Understanding Baby’s Non-Verbal Cues

But, let’s first get to know the importance of grasping your little one’s non-verbal cues. First and foremost, effective communication is key to building an emotional bond with your little bundle of joy, reassuring them that they are understood and cared for. Parents demonstrate love and attachment by recognizing non-verbal cues, building the foundation for the baby’s overall development.

Types of Non-Verbal Cues In Babies

From vocal sounds to body movements, non-verbal cues comprise a range of types, and here we’ll ensure that you and your little one are on the same page.

Vocal sounds:

You often hear your little one making cooing and gurgling sounds. These sounds often indicate pleasure or contentment and are not to be confused with something else. While crying indicates hunger, discomfort, or a call for attention, babbling helps babies practice and explore different sounds or patterns of language.

Facial expressions:

According to studies conducted by renowned scientists, there is a universal pattern for babies to show what’s happening in their bodies. Through facial expressions, body language, gestures, and paralinguistics, they speak to us, conveying their needs and emotions. If your baby is smiling, think joy, and if your little one is frowning or grimacing, think discomfort or distress. Babies show curiosity with eyes wide open.

Body language:

Babies often kick their legs in excitement or anticipation. This can indicate eagerness or enthusiasm to interact with those present in their surroundings. They use their body parts to express their intentions like reaching out to someone to engage or simply to explore. To take a break from stimulation or to express a desire for solitude, babies may turn away or avoid eye contact.


An additional form of non-verbal cue is touch, which can have both positive and negative impacts. While gentle touch can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in a baby’s brain, brief or harsh touch leads to the release of stress chemicals. It is important to make the baby feel safe and secure in their environment, as touch plays a crucial role in their overall brain and cognitive development.

Interpreting Non-Verbal Cues: An In-Depth Analysis

Although every baby is unique, some universal signs tell us what they need. You don’t always have to interpret their cues perfectly, but ensure you make an effort to understand your little one’s emotions.

Hungry or Full

While babies express their hunger by sucking strongly and swallowing, they close or pull away their lips when full. When hungry, the baby will cry or complain if the bottle is taken away and when not, their mouth will dribble milk.

Tired & Grumpy

If a baby is tired, they start crying and become irritable. In fact, the pitch and intensity of crying also change, and they lose focus. Their eyes become red, hands clenched into fists, and their face scrunches up. Other signs of tiredness are constant rubbing of their faces and yawning.

Additionally, babies can also be irritated when they have developed a skin rash or infection. Baby’s skin is 10 times more sensitive than older children and adults, which makes it more difficult for parents to spot where their little one has certain sensitivities. Daily skincare with dermatologist-approved products ensures intense moisturisation and hydration, which keeps most skincare issues like eczema, baby acne, milia, and rashes at bay. Besides, a nourishing diaper rash cream also helps soothe diaper rashes, which tend to develop quite often.

Seeks Comfort

Often, babies seek comfort and cry out of loneliness, reaching out to be held close. When strangers are present, they seek eye contact with familiar faces and it is important to stay close in such unfamiliar settings to provide a sense of security to your little one.

Playful & Chirpy

Babies, when they want to play, open their eyes wide and try to reach for someone’s face or a toy. In excitement, they wave their arms and legs and even laugh or giggle. They look around for something that catches their attention.

Final Thoughts

At times, we tend to overlook the fact that babies are constantly communicating with their non-verbal cues. In fact, they often mirror their parents’ behavior; therefore, it is crucial to maintain regular communication with them.

Talk to your baby while bathing them, massaging them, changing their diaper, doing their skincare or feeding them. Try to mirror their expressions to show that you understand their cues. Most importantly, maintain eye contact and stay relaxed in your body posture and facial expression to develop a strong bond with your little one.


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