Infant cues

Babies communicate clearly through facial expression, sounds and movements long before they can speak. Understanding their needs and knowing how to respond sensitively helps parents foster secure attachment, self-regulation and resilience in their children. Their babies tend to sleep better, cry less, and to be generally happier exploring their world and interacting joyfully with their parents and others around them.

Cues signal either approach or withdrawal – ‘I want you’, ‘I need your help’, or ‘Give me space for a moment’, ‘I feel crowded / overloaded’. They can signal hunger as well as ‘I’ve had enough. I’m full.’

For some babies it can be much harder to give clear cues. This may be temporary such as for very premature babies who may have insufficient energy to interact  well with their parents until more mature, or for sick babies who may be too tired for much communication until they are well again. Babies who have a sensory or physical disability may give cues that require their parents to be especially sensitive and attuned to their uniqueness and meaning.

For parents and professionals, learning about infant communication and their innate behaviours can make an enormous difference to your understanding of their personalities and temperament from the earliest days of life.

Pam Stilling's NCAST workshops for professionals and the ‘Understanding Babies’ series for parents will significantly increase your knowledge about infants in general and your own in particular.