Now I've Seen Everything
Now I've Seen Everything

5+ Signs Your Kid Sends You to Communicate Their Needs

From the moment they are born until they are able to form full sentences and communicate, kids use their bodies to tell us what they need. Their cry, hand and body movements tell us in non-verbal ways if they are hungry, are tired and even if they are more developed for their age. So, parents have no other solution but to learn what these signs mean and how to react to them.

1. How to know the different types of crying

Crying is the main way a baby expresses their needs during their first 4 months of life. But how can parents understand whether the baby is crying because of hunger, pain, or something else?

  • A bored cry: When starved for attention, babies start out cooing, as a sign they are inviting you to play with them. As they don’t get what they want, they’ll start to fuss, slowly starting to cry and whimper.
  • A tired cry: This cry should start out whiny until it becomes louder. Babies will also start to yawn as they cry.
  • A cry because of hunger: This crying will be low-pitched and repetitive. The baby will also likely make other signs showing they’re hungry, like putting fingers in their mouth.
  • A cry because of pain: This crying will be high-pitched. Periodically, there will be screaming bursts indicating that the pain increases.
  • A sick cry: Babies will usually make soft whimpers when they’re feeling unwell. This is a sign that the baby doesn’t have the energy they normally do, making them sound tired.
  • Moreover, very tiny babies may cry when they want to change their environment or when they are frustrated or bored.

2. What it means if they have too much energy.

Your child may be bursting with enthusiasm and energy when it comes to their favorite activities, itching to start the day. Such high levels of energy may be a sign that their minds are highly engaged as they constantly seek new activities and experiences.

3. What are the signs that they are more advanced for their age.

  • They hold long eye contact as a baby: This means that they’re aware of their environment and alert as to what’s going on around them.
  • They’re chatterboxes: Children with advanced development prefer to chat with people older than themselves, such as a teacher or older children.
  • They have good motor skills in the early years: one study says that good motor skills are related to higher intelligence later in life.
  • They’re emotionally sensitive: Research reveals that the emotional intelligence of first-grade girls is connected to their intellectual abilities.
  • They’re more creative: Sometimes it may feel like they’re running you off your feet with their eagerness to play, but this may be a sign that they’re highly creative.
  • They’re messy eaters in their first years: A study tells us that 16-month-olds learn by interacting and getting messy with objects, especially food.

4. How to understand if a newborn is hungry.

Long before the baby learns to speak, they will be giving signs to the parents indicating whether they are hungry or full. Crying is often a late sign of hunger, which is why experts recommend learning to notice other signs, such as sounds and movements, and encouraging the baby to eat as long as they are calm.

A baby can tell you they’re hungry in the following ways:

  • Bringing the hands to the mouth or sucking the fingers
  • Turning the head in search of the breast or bottle
  • Squeezing their lips, licking or smacking them
  • Clenching the hands
  • Opening and closing the mouth actively
  • Putting the head on the mother’s chest while being held
  • Becoming unusually alert and active, not sleeping for a long time
  • Pulling up the legs
  • Squirming around


The baby can demonstrate either some or all of the aforementioned signs of hunger. Monitor how the baby behaves between feeding sessions and you’ll soon find it easier to distinguish the signals the newborn is sending you.

5. How to know what each movement means.

  • Arching their back: Babies under 4 months old often make this movement when responding to pain and colic.
  • Rotating their head: This is a calming, soothing movement for the baby. They might do it before falling asleep or when they’re anxious.
  • Grabbing their ears: In most cases, this movement shows that the baby is just exploring their body or self-soothing. You should consult the doctor only if this movement is followed by crying and scratching and repeats often.
  • Lifting their legs: This is a sign of colic and tummy pain. The baby is trying to reflexively ease the pain.
  • Jerking their arms: This movement means that the baby got frightened. A loud sound, bright light, or sudden awakening can provoke the startle reflex. In this case, the baby needs to be comforted.

Bonus: How to recognize sings of autism.

Before the age of 12 months:

  • They don’t pay attention to new faces.
  • They don’t respond to loud noises.
  • They don’t grab or hold objects.
  • They don’t respond to a parent’s smile
  • They are not trying to attract attention through actions.
  • They have no interest in participating in interactive games with people.

After the first 12 months:

  • They seem unable to show empathy.
  • They show no interest in their loved ones.
  • You have a hard time identifying their emotions.
  • They maintain repetitive routines.
  • They may have sensory problems.
  • They show difficulty in speaking and understanding language.
  • They have difficulty recognizing facial expressions.

Do you have kids and if you do, what worries you the most about their behavior? How hard is it to know what your child needs when they can’t articulate their emotions just yet?

Now I've Seen Everything/Health/5+ Signs Your Kid Sends You to Communicate Their Needs
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