Understanding your baby

“The more you observe and care for your baby, the easier it will be to tell what it is that they need.” 

For most parents learning to read your baby’s signals isn’t something you have to do deliberately. By simply enjoying your baby, spending lots of time together and being focused on your baby, those cries and signals will start to make sense to you faster than you expected.

It’s mostly trial and error or guesswork in the beginning but over time you will recognise a few regular behaviours and what they mean. Being a detective and developing a hypothesis about what you think is going on can help you to have a couple of ideas about what to try to comfort your baby.

During the first months of life your baby is learning about their world, and they need you to help them.  They depend on their parents responding when they signal, and this helps them feel increasingly safe and secure.

While adults are capable of waiting, little babies cannot.  They do best if our responses to them are immediate and appropriate to their cues.  Though, of course, this is not possible all the time – “good enough” is the goal. We can only do our best. When our babies grow, they can wait a little longer and can interact with you in more sophisticated ways. It’s not realistic to think you can always know what your baby wants or needs!

We do not have to match our baby perfectly, as long as we get it right most of the time. Babies learn a lot about themselves from these interactions where their feelings are mirrors back to them.

As an example: When the baby is getting upset and a little grizzly, its’ mother is likely to match this state and change her voice and face to reflect the baby’s saddened feelings. She is likely to say “Oh! What’s the matter? Don’t worry!” In a voice that conveys empathy. This matching usually helps the baby to manage their feelings and soothe themself.

The loving relationship between baby and parents becomes the foundation for all future relationships.