11 Important Baby Cues
How moms can decode baby signals like smiling, copying mom and dad, eye rubbing, and crying, so they can respond to their babies and bond with them.
A cry of pain comes on much more suddenly than a hunger cry. It's about twice as long, and continuous- that is, it doesn't rise and fall in pitch.
What to do: Go through a mental checklist when trying to comfort your baby. Could she have a wet or soiled diaper? Could she be too cold -- or too warm? (A baby waking up in a car seat, for instance, is often overheated.) Look your baby over from head to toe. Sometimes a piece of clothing or edge of a diaper is pinching her skin.
Between two and three months, your baby's cries will become more varied, and he may develop a cranky, "tired" cry. "It may be a softer variation of his distress cry, says Bahr. (Don't forget to use common sense in deciphering cries: If your baby's been awake for a couple hours, it's more than likely you're hearing a sleepy cry.)
What to do: Try rocking in a chair or on your feet, swaying from side to side, gently stroking his head or chest, or softly singing. You'll quickly find out what works best to quiet your baby.
Cooing, babbling and laughing
Babies "talk" between two and three months, says Bahr. "They start to match the pitch and variation of the parent's tone." By four to six months, babies experiment even more with their voices; they babble, putting consonant and vowel sounds together and make raspberry sounds. "Her voice can express a range of emotions -- happy, mad, irritated, protesting, eager and satisfied," says Bahr.
What to do: Narrate your activities as you go through the day with your baby ("Now I'm going to run the water for your bath," "Look at the pretty butterfly!") - pausing to let her babble back at you. Encourage her by mimicking the sounds she makes - and enjoy these first, memorable conversations!