Early communication: 5 ways your baby is already trying to communicate

Your baby is trying to communicate with you from the moment they are born.

But it's not always easy to work out what they're trying to say when they can't speak any words.

There are some signs to look for to get an idea of what they're trying to communicate.

Every baby is different, and you'll get to know your own, but here are some signals you might spot.

1. Rubbing eyes or face

If you're baby is rubbing their eyes or cheeks, it might be a sign that they're tired.

If I’m rubbing my eyes and cheeks, starting to stare into the distance and clenching my fists tight, it’s likely that I’m getting a little sleepy.

When babies are tired, they often show it by rubbing their face, tugging on their ears or balling their hands into fists. Often they get a bit glassy-eyed and stare at nothing in particular. These are all sure-fire signs your little one needs to get to sleep.

2. Red face, kicking legs

If your baby is quite red and kicking their legs, they might want burping.

I’m kicking my legs and breathing a bit fast, my face is reddening… it could be a sign that I either need a change of activity or a burp.

Legs raised and kicking, along with quick breathing and a pained expression, could be a sign that baby is either a bit frustrated or that they need winding.

3. 'Ooooh!' face

Whatever you’re saying or doing, it looks like I’m going ‘oooooh!’ in response! When I’m pulling my lips into a little ‘O’ shape and widening my eyes, it’s playtime.

This look, wide open eyes and round little mouth, is a common one for excited babies who want to play with their parents. They might also clap, wave their hands, or even make a sound or two.

4. Sucking on hands

If babies try latching on to your finger when you touch their cheek, they might be hungry.

If you’re touching my face and I keep turning towards your hand to suck on your fingers, it could be a sign that I’m hungry.

Looking for a food source with their mouth, often called rooting, is a natural thing for your baby to do when hungry.

Hungry babies will often look to latch on to parents’ fingers, hands, noses, necklaces and clothes whenever any of these come near to their faces.

5. Turning away

If I’m turning my head away from yours in the middle of playtime, or trying to duck out and crawl off, maybe it’s time to stop!

When they’re really enjoying an activity, babies will stare at you with wide eyes. But when they’re overstimulated or have just had enough of something, they might tell you by looking or crawling away.

Article produced with help from Sheena Flack, an NHS Speech and Language Therapist based in Dundee.

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