One of the most astonishing revelations about newborns is their ability to communicate almost from birth. Without words, they inform when they want to eat, how they learn, when they want to play, and even rest. Learn to better read these signals and you may just avoid meltdowns from both you and baby.
Healthy babies are constantly changing the “state” they are in, giving cues. Identifying the state your baby is in, and recognizing your baby’s cues, are keys to becoming a Baby Whisperer. Every 24 hours, in a baby’s world, is considered a day filled with eating, sleeping, and a constant shift between infancy states.
Infant states to memorize
Infant behavior is organized into six “states” with increasing intensity. You’ll find that throughout the day, baby transitions between the following:
1. Crying: It will take time to calm your baby
2. Irritable: Your baby will be distracted by external and internal stimuli
3. Quiet alert: This ideal state but can end abruptly
4. Drowsy: A great time to encourage sleep
5. Light sleep: The first 30 minutes of a babies 60-minute sleep cycle. This is a very light state of sleep and the baby will most likely wake when put down
6. Deep sleep: Sharp contrast to light sleep, the second 30 minutes of a baby’s 60-minute sleep cycle. If you put a baby down during deep sleep, will most likely stay asleep
Master the infant states. Here’s how:
Reviewing the six infant states puts you one step closer to becoming a Baby Whisperer. Here is a mock scenario.
Problem: My baby only wants to sleep on my chest and wakes up every time I put her down.
Solution: If a baby is drowsy with heavy, glazed eyes, referring to infant states listed above, you could encourage sleep by reducing stimulation and add one soothing technique. Wait 30 minutes until the baby is in Deep sleep, not Light sleep before putting baby down in the crib.
The two cues are Engagement cues and Disengagement cues. If your baby is tired, they will disengage. It’s common to not understand these cues and wind up overstimulating your baby. When your baby wants to engage, look for the following: wide-open eyes—as if baby is trying to memorize what he or she sees. Baby’s face and body will be relaxed and baby will use smooth body movements. Your baby is asking for help to learn more about you and this new world. Enjoy this time together but be prepared to watch for important signs.
Disengagement cues: Your baby may close his or her eyes, turn face or body away from you or arch or twist his or her body away. Baby’s muscles will be tense and she or he may frown or look like he she is about to cry. If baby’s not allowed to take a break, crying will ensue. Older babies will stiffen their hands and bring them up towards their faces.
Solution: Let your baby take a break! Stop whatever you’re doing and reduce stimulation in the environment (noises, lights, toys, or interactions).
Awareness and implementation of these solutions create a beautiful bonding experience, helping you be a better expert Baby Whisperer.