Cracking the code of baby signals

From the very beginning, your baby will be trying to communicate with you. Here are some of the things to look out for.

Baby signals

Responding to your baby’s signals is the beginning of them learning two-way communication. For example, to show you they need attention, your baby may make eye contact, make noises, smile, copy gestures or look relaxed and interested.

To show they need a break or a different or gentler approach, your baby might look away, shut their eyes, try to struggle or pull away, yawn or cry and look tense or unsettled.


Crying is the only way small babies know how to signal to you to get their needs met. Babies under six months may also cry because they need something, but they don’t know what they need.

Here are some reasons they cry:

  • They are hungry or thirsty.
  • They are too hot or too cold.
  • They need a nappy change.
  • They are frightened or lonely and need comfort.
  • They are tired.
  • They are unwell (start by taking their temperature).
  • They have pain (try holding them against your shoulder, they may need to burp).
  • They are anxious (sometimes when they wake at night and you are not there, they miss you- try putting their cot in your room or spend time quietly in their room.)

Try different things to find out what soothes your baby, such as a dummy or sounds, like music or a clock ticking, so you can calm them.

For more information on baby cues, check out this Queensland Health factsheet.

Image Baby smiles while interacting with an adult, showing they are happy


Published — 21 September 2016 Last updated — 02 November 2016

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