PARENTHOOD IN A NUTSHELL
We can spend forever watching how water flows, how the fire burns, and how first-time parents are getting ready to welcome their baby. It is a great thing to see how excited and loving people are. Nevertheless, joy and terror walk hand in hand as parents-to-be anticipate the baby's arrival.
You will feel the beauty of the experience as soon as you get to hold a baby. It will be a pivotal moment for a first-time mother and father. However, before actually holding a little one, parents undergo tons of planning and preparations.
They prepare a perfect nursery, buy all sorts of clothes and toys for a child, and spend weeks in anticipation. To be honest, preparations are therapeutic, for they help to become one with the idea of becoming parents.
The world that babies come to is scary and unknown. The warm and calm environment that a little one was in for months is different.
Therefore, as soon as the baby is born, a period of adaptation begins. Both parents and children are trying to get to know each other.
A child is an enigma that a first-time mom tries to resolve every single day. Because a little one cannot talk yet, parents often feel lost when a child starts to cry.
Therefore, you need to "read" a child rather than listen to a little one. It is already too late when a baby starts to cry, so pay close attention.
Some specific movements and reflexes signal about a particular wish of a little one. They are called baby cues. Because a child is small, instincts and self-preservation mechanisms take control and get a baby through the first months of life until a little becomes conscious of the world.
You will go through crying, disbelief, and joy altogether. The most important thing to do is love and take care of yourself, pay close attention to baby cues, and be there for a little one. By doing this, you will see how to read non-verbal signs of a little one and help a child deal with its emotions.
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7 IMPORTANT BABY CUES THAT MOST NEW PARENTS MISS
People are used to verbal communication rather than non-verbal because it is far easier and faster to ask than "read" a person. It works almost every time, but not when it comes to babies.
These little creatures will make you feel like Professor Xavier in your attempts to figure out what a child wants. Sounds rather supernatural. Therefore, there is another way that will help you.
Like any other creature, people have a set of instincts that activate whenever it is needed and relevant. As a result, your mouth may utter whatever you want, but your body will show your real feelings.
At birth, children are at the very first stage of their development, so they are involuntarily governed by instincts and rudimentary needs. You can see it in their body language.
Becoming a mom for the first time is challenging because a woman cannot "read" a little one yet. Therefore, I am here to help you. Here are six basic baby cues that each parent needs to know.
Believe me, as soon you are through with this article, you will notice that your baby acts as it is written here. So with no further ado, let us get down to business!
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1. Rooting cue
Children have this particular cue from birth to approximately for months of age. It is a reflex, which can only mean one thing – a child is hungry.
Whenever you stroke a child’s cheek, a little one turns its head towards the side that you touch. A child is looking for a breast. Besides, you will notice that a child opening its lips and makes sucking sounds.
A baby starts moving its head from side to side, so a first-time mom can easily miss it. Therefore, pay close attention (at least for the first time) until you automatically notice these signs.
Whenever you see the child acting like this, try offering a little one a bottle or a breast. This way, you will get ahead of the intense pangs of hunger and avoid crying.
Furthermore, crying is one of the signs that you have missed the first displays of rooting cue. Whenever a child needs your attention but does not get it, a little one starts screaming and crying. You can avoid this (not entirely, of course) by paying attention.
Babies grow and become more conscious. However, rooting cues still mean the same thing, although done less reflexively.
2. Overstimulation cue
Children have the ability that each adult needs so badly – energy-saving mode. Well, it is not the medical term, but the idea is the same.
Children can get overstimulated in a blink of an eye. It can happen when you play too much or in the crowd. Whenever you see a child turning its head away or even kicking and squirming, it means that a little one needs some space.
Turning their heads away is a natural mechanism that activates whenever a little one gets too much information from the outer world. In such a way, little one's mind protects itself and maintains a safe development.
If you are in a crowd and notice this cue, the best way would be to place a little one in an infant wrap and cover their face with it. You will give a child peace it needs, and the only thing it will feel is your heartbeat.
At home, it is much easier because there is plenty of space for a baby to rest. You can put a little one into a crib and leave a child for a few minutes alone. It will help a kid to deal with overstimulation, and a child might fall asleep.
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3. Bringing hands to the mouth
This cue might confuse a first-time mom because there are actually a few reasons children bring their hands to their mouths.
First – kids might be hungry. Whenever you notice the signals of rooting accompanied by bringing hands to the mouth and sucking them, it means that your child is hungry.
Second – teething. At this period, the child's gums hurt, and a little one puts its fingers into the mouth. Apart from fingers, kids will be biting everything they can, including the mother's nipples and toys. In order to prevent the baby from putting its fingers to the mouth, you can give them teething rings.
Third – overstimulation. Whenever a baby is overstimulated, it puts a finger (usually a thumb) into their mouths. It is the way a little one soothes and calms itself down.
A guessing game is not what will help you to figure out the reason. Therefore, try to exclude options one by one.
Give a child a bottle or a breast. If a kid refuses it, it means that a baby is not hungry.
Children get their first teeth at a different age. Usually, children start teething between 3 and 12 months of age, sometimes later. Apart from putting hands into the mouth, a baby might be drooling excessively, biting, ear pulling, and coughing.
There is no need to mention crying because it is a natural reaction to the pain. To either confirm or refute, your suspicions feel around the child's gums. If you think that one area feels harder against your finger than the others, it means a little one will have teeth soon.
If you are in a crowd or a child has been passed around a lot, you can consider that a little one is overstimulated. Therefore, take a baby away from the people and give it a minute to calm down.
4. Rubbing and pulling ears
Being a first-time mother, you might not know some of the ques on the list. However, this sign will get, no doubt.
Whenever a child rubs or pulls ears, it means that a little one is tired. In this case, a nap or a good night's sleep would be a perfect choice. It is not only about ears, though.
Kids start yawning and fussing, their movements become jerky, and sometimes a little one stares into nowhere. These signals scream, "A baby needs to sleep!"
The human organism is all about accuracy and "seizing" the moment. Whenever a person (regardless of age) is super tired, they need to go to bed, because the body symbolizes a perfect time to doze off. However, if a person stays up a little longer, one will get through this wish to go to bed.
The thing is that whenever a body gets the signal to postpone sleep and keep a mind clear and running, it releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that prompts the body to cope with stress. As soon as the hormone is in the system, the moment is lost, you will not be able to fall asleep for a few hours minimum.
Whenever a child feels tired and pulls its ears, it means that the body produces the hormone already, and the moment might be lost. Therefore, please pay close attention and try putting a child to bed after it starts yawning.
5. Clenching Fists
Whenever something is wrong, a person clenches fists. This movement is rather involuntary and unconscious, but it says a lot.
Whenever you see a little one clenching fists, it means that something is not right. Take a look at the child's fists and see if the skin around the hand's inner part is much lighter than a child's pigment. If so, it is a signal that there are some troubles with the digestive system.
Usually, first-time mothers get very anxious and worried when a child is having problems with digestion. However, there is no need to panic because children get this quite often. A child might have constipation or gas pain.
You will need to take a look at the child's belly and see what it looks like. If the belly is bulging and changing, it means that a little one is pushing. Whenever a baby has a notably rounded belly with visible veins, a child has either constipation or excessive gas.
You can help a baby by softly massaging its belly. Make circular motions and remember not to push too hard, for you might make the pain even worse. Also, you can do a "bicycle.
It is a movement that you do with the child's legs imitating riding a bicycle. It will help a little one's digestive system.
6. Arching back
There are a few reasons why a child might arch its back. The first reason is that a little one is full and tries to move away from a breast or a bottle. The second reason is that a baby has reflux.
Very often, you can see children having hiccups. It is because a little one had too much to eat. It is one of the reasons why a child would arch its back.
Hiccups appear as a result of the full stomach pressing diaphragm. In this case, it is essential to help a baby to deal with this.
A baby needs to burp, and here are few ways you can help a baby do this:
- Take a baby and rest its head on your shoulder. After holding a child with one hand, gently pat its back with another.
- Lay a baby on belly on your lap and gently pat a little one on its back.
Focus your pats on the right side of the child's back because this is where the stomach is located. Note that a child might get a gulp of air while feeding. Because of this, a little one may be arching its back and fussing.
Try burping a child right away in order to avoid swallowing more air. This will prevent a child from discomfort and spitting up.
7. Wish to play
Children are curious creatures who get to know the world around them by observing, touching things, and listening to parents' explanations. Therefore, do not miss the moment when a little one is into playing.
Whenever a baby is in the mood to play, its eyes are wide open, and a little one is looking you directly in the eye as little hands are reaching out to you.
You may think that babies are not that into games and reading, but this is not entirely true. First of all, you need to talk and read to a child so that a little one could get to know your voice. Also, you can play with a child by showing it some small toys and rattlers.
The sound will stimulate a child, and it will be reaching out its hands in order to catch a toy. This activity will help a little one strengthen its muscles.
Sometimes parents do not get a response from a child when they are playing and reading. As a result, parents think that the child is bored. Usually, kids merely observe you and try to understand what is going on here.
Check our What and How to Play With Baby? Learn how to play different kinds of games that your newborn will be interested in.
TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME PARENTS
Parents want their kids to be the happiest in the whole world. For this reason, they will do everything they can. However, sometimes parents can get anxious. Remember the following few things:
- All children are different. They grow and develop differently, so don’t stress yourself out by what other people say.
- Never compare your child to others. As I have already said, all children are individuals, and they have personal timing. Whenever you see that someone's child has teeth at five months old and yours does not, don't think that there is something wrong with your baby! Be patient.
- Don’t stress out. First-time moms tend to blame themselves for missing cues or some minor things. Stop and take a deep breath! Practice makes perfect. You will never be perfect because there is no such thing. Perfection is a moving target we all strive for but never come close to it. Therefore, instead of torturing yourself with guilt, try enjoying each moment and always believe in yourself.
- Do not over analyze this is harmful to you and as a consequence for a child.
- Read some literature.
- Pay attention.
- Take care of yourself, because a child needs happy and healthy parents.
These are the most important cues that babies use to communicate with the world. Your task is to notice them and answer them as soon as possible to satisfy the child's wishes.
All you need to do is to pay attention, for these cues may be difficult to notice at first. First-time mothers tend to think of themselves as a "bad mother" just because a child cries often.
Worries and various negative thoughts prevent you from paying attention to what is extremely important. Therefore, stop, relax, and go with the float.
Babies do not give too much thought to whatever your facial expression might mean. They feel what a mother feels and respond to it by sharing this with you. Therefore, try to calm yourself down if you want a child to be serene.
Baby cues above will be of great use to first-time mothers because they contain the signs and reasons for a particular situation. Remember, once you see it, you can never unsee it. I am trying to say that as soon as you get familiar with the signs of baby cues, you will be noticing them more often. Therefore, stay calm and pay attention.
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