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Learning about baby cues

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

July 17th 📅 is World Emoji Day! According to Unicode statistics, the most popular emoji for the second-year running is the ‘joy smiley face 😂’ followed by ‘red heart ❤️’ then ‘heart eyes smiley face 😍’. We love our emojis! Who of us hasn't gotten a wordless, emoji-only text? It’s amazing how much you can actually say using only emojis! Perhaps it's not so surprising when we consider the power of our own non-verbal communications - smiling, laughing, crying... And the same goes for our babies. Your baby talks to you all the time, well before they can speak, using their face, their voice, their arm and leg movements. They're born ready to tell us what they need! “Reading” these non-verbal signals, or “cues” however, is often easier said than done...

Here are a few hints to help you translate these 'cues' into more meaningful baby messages. Let’s start with "engagement" and "disengagement" cues - all of which are OK - they're just ways of communicating with you! There's no negative or postive cues as even crying is how your baby lets you know what is happening.

Engagement cues 😊 Engagements cues are signals, or body language that babies use to show they can manage what's going on around them.  Your baby is saying "I'm ready to interact" or "Keep going". Here are some engagement cues to look out for:

  • Eyes become wide open and bright as the baby focuses on you

  • Turning eyes, head or body toward you, or the person who is talking

  • Alert face

  • Smiling, raising their eyebrows

  • Reaching towards you

  • Smooth hand, arm, and leg movements

Enjoy this time together and watch for signs that your baby might be getting tired. These signs are called 'Disengagement cues'…

Disengagement cues 😴

Disengagement cues are signs your baby uses to say they might need a break from what's happening, or for things to slow down. Sometimes the break means a sleep! Stop whatever you were doing; reduce stimulation around them like noises, lights, toys, or interactions. Disengagement cues to look out for include:

  • Crying or fussing

  • Frowning, grimacing or yawning

  • Falling asleep

  • Turning eyes, head or body away from you or the person who is talking

  • Back arching or stiff posture

All babies are born with the ability to 'Talk to us' using these cues. The magic is you both learn about each other as you watch and practice different responses to cues together. Remember, it's definitely OK to not get it right all of the time! It's an important part of learning for you both. Soon enough, you and your baby will develop your own special language - and then, all too soon, your baby will start talking! 💬

In the meantime, check out our 'tired', 'hungry' or 'ready to play' cues to look out for in the app! Go to More > Tips and Wisdom> Daily Activities.

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