7 explanations to your baby’s body language according to experts

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For new parents, it is certainly not easy to know whether your newborn baby cries because they are hungry or their dirty diaper needs changing. 

Luckily, there are actually ways to know what your baby means by just observing their body language. As simple as an open fist can actually tell you a lot.

1. Arching back

If you find your baby arches their back, it may be caused by a reaction to pain and heartburn may most likely be the reason.

However, if the baby does so in the middle of a feed, it may mean that they are full but it could also mean that they suffer from colic or digestive issues such as GERD or acid reflux.

Other common reasons would be that they are frustrated, angry or tired. If they continuously crying, it is crucial for you to consult a pediatrician immediately.

2. Constant kicking

According to assistant professor of pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School at Children’s Hospital Boston, Claire McCarthy, M.D., constant kicking may be a good sign.

“If she seems happy and smiley, it’s probably a sign that she wants to play,” McCarthy said.

However, if the baby is fussy, it may mean that something is bothering them. “It could be anything from gas to a dirty diaper to a cramped car seat, so do a quick once-over to see what might be bugging her.”

3. Head-banging

“Babies find the rhythmic back-and-forth motion soothing,” said Catherine Nelson, M.D., a pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Centre in San Jose, California.

However, if the baby keeps doing the same motion for a prolonged period of time, it may mean something else. “If your baby bangs his head for long periods of time instead of engaging with others or playing with his toys, then you should bring it to your pediatrician’s attention at a checkup,” Dr. Brown said.

This habit should stop by the time the baby turned three years old.

4. Grabbing ears

When a baby grabs their ears, this does not mean that they have an ear infection.

“Many parents jump to that conclusion but most of the time your baby has just realized that she had ears,” Dr. Nelson said.

It also means that the baby is teething especially when the one-year molars are coming in, according to Dr. Brown.

5. Clenched fist

Clenching fist is something that you should react quickly if you ever see your baby is doing it. This means that the baby is extremely stressed out due to hunger.

S. Michelle Long, a certified baby nurse in New York City said, “I find that when babies are very hungry, they tense up all over.”

6. Scrunched up knees

If the baby scrunches up their knees, this means that they have some digestive problems like constipation, gas, or stomach uneasiness.

“This position is usually a sign of abdominal discomfort, either from having gas, passing a bowel movement, or being constipated,” Dr. Nelson said.

Try to ease their pain by helping them burp slowly and gently pat on their back.

7. Arm jerks

This means that the baby is startled by some loud noise, bright light or sudden movement. Help them by reducing the noise or dimming the light and swaddling them for bedtime.

Arm jerks should disappear after they turned three or four months old.

Credit: Mom Junction

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