The language of the baby's emotions

At birth, the baby is facing an unknown world, where everything seems different from how he felt in his mother's womb. Parents can give your child what he needs so that he does not feel insecure, uneasy and afraid of the unknown. Only 10% of emotional communication is expressed through words. The remaining 90% comes from the behaviors that accompany them.

In the first moments of the child's life, people especially call their attention. The baby then has two types of behaviors: initial behavior (stereotyped, simple, reflex, repetitive) and specific behaviors (aimed at increasing and prolonging the interaction between the child and the adult: crying, smiling, babbling, gestures, etc.). ).

Babies do not stop communicating

Babies do not stop communicating continuously, but with language without words: through touch, crying, facial expression, posture and body tension. That is, with the language of emotions. Through it, parents can better understand your child and help in their psychological and social development, as well as strengthen family ties and the child's self-esteem.
Recent studies in this field ensure that only 10% of emotional communication is expressed through words; the remaining 90% comes from the behaviors that accompany them, that is, gestures, eye contact, posture, tone and inflection of the voice. This is even more real with babies, as their language skills are limited.

Watch your baby closely

To understand the language of your child, first of all it is necessary to learn to observe carefully and objectively. It really is not so easy when it comes to our children, because sometimes we project our own feelings or anxieties on them, looking for what is not there; and this runs as much for defects as for virtues.

Objective observation encompasses the great signs, that is, the obvious aspects in the baby: his facial expression, gestures, postures and movement; and the small signs: color of the skin when he cries, how he closes his fists when something hurts, or the way he opens his eyes when feeling confused. Mothers in general define it as intuition, the feeling we have when we "know" something happens to the child, but we can not explain why. They are very subtle signals and it requires practice to notice them. Keeping a record of them is an excellent method.

Crying says a lot about what the baby does not express with words

It is the communication tool par excellence of babies. When they cry they express their needs, with a specific cry for each of them. Scientists have identified at least 12 types, of which we highlight eight:

Hungry: the most common. It begins with a rhythmic wail to burst after a few minutes in a loud, short cry, followed by a pause to take a breath. It does not stop until it is fed.

Satiety: Up to six months a baby is not able to regulate his food intake, so he will continue to suck, even if he does not need it. If you return a lot and are restless after eating, you are indicating that you need fewer and more frequent shots.

Fatigue: he is most likely to be uneasy. Maybe release a few tears without rhythm and irregular, in terms of tone and volume. You can also hit your ears, suck your fingers or rub your eyes. He will resist any effort to distract him or play with him, he will turn his head and every time he will be more agitated, because what he really wants is to rest.

Pain: it is a cry that starts without preamble, loud, long and shrill. After letting out a howl of pain, the baby pauses for a long time, as if holding his breath. When she returns to mourn, her body is tense, with raised hands and feet, her mouth wide open and an expression of deep discomfort.

Disease: it can be an acute and nasal cry, similar to that of pain, but weaker. It will be red and maybe warm to the touch.

Needs diaper change: When he is upset after having his needs, he will cry very loudly, as if something would hurt him, which can sometimes be the case if the pee irritates a scratch.

Fear: It is usually sudden, sharp and penetrating, followed by a blockage to try to breathe. It usually ends as suddenly as it begins.

Rage and frustration: it is reflected in his face and in his movements: grimace of disgust in the mouth, arch the back, throw the head backwards or to the side, etc. It is usually a short cry.

The advisable thing is to come to comfort him shortly and calm him down in about ten minutes; otherwise, the time needed to calm down will double between two and four times more.

The language of baby gestures

After nine months, your baby will use numerous signs and signals to communicate. Some of them are "homegrown", while others are common to most children and are easily recognizable.

Research shows that when parents take seriously the use of signs to dialogue with their children, they learn to communicate with words beforehand. To enhance this interaction, it is good to learn to express oneself through gestural language and to teach children relevant or significant signs to relate to them.

Whether they are extracted from the formal sign language, or if they are spontaneously invented by the baby - in which case they will have to be detected and learned to interpret them - the communication between parents and children will be more fluid in all safety. Posture, body gestures and facial expression are important for the development of relationships, as they increase the child's ability to send and receive information about their feelings.

Tips to understand your baby's language

- Speak in a calm and warm tone to transmit interest, with a relaxed voice, but animated.

- Pay attention to what he says through visual contact.

- Eliminates physical barriers (the newspaper, a book) or interruptions (telephone or television) and creates an intimate space that stimulates the approach. Find a distance that is comfortable for the child.

- Pay attention to your need for contact or physical support; not all need the same degree or the same frequency. Even when they are older, it is still an important way to communicate their emotions.

To establish a harmony with your child it is good to imitate their movements. Recent studies show that when we imitate the tone and volume of another person's voice (postures, gestures or breathing), it feels more comfortable with us and becomes more accessible.

Leyre Echevarría
Advisor: Natalia Hurtado Lorenzo. Child Educator

You may also like:

- Stages of baby language

- Stimulation for babies in the crib

- Causes of baby crying

Video: 25 Emotions, Feelings, & Sensation ASL Signs to Teach Your Baby & Toddler (with Teaching Tips)

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