19 signs that will help you to understand your baby before they can speak

One of the most difficult things about being the parent of a baby is that they have very limited ways of communicating. Sure, there’s the obvious laughter and crying, but apart from that, trying to work out what is going on in their little minds can feel like a nigh impossible task. However, with the right knowledge, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

It turns out that there’s a lot of signs that babies give off, both in their body language and behavior, which can let us know how they’re feeling – if, of course, we are able to read these signs; many of which appear to be something else entirely. So, to help you understand your little angel better, we’ve compiled a list of 18 common baby signs and their meanings.

Your baby’s cry

Any parent of a small child will attest to the fact that their cry can vary quite a bit, so instead of guessing what your baby wants, as most of us are prone to do, take a closer look, and you could discover what’s wrong a whole lot quicker.

It’s also worth noting that a study in Nature found that mom’s, in particular, are very good at deciphering baby’s cries because they elicit the release of the hormone oxytocin in the brain.


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1. A calling cry

As the name suggests, the purpose of this cry is to literally call for something – usually you. You’ll know that’s the case if your baby cries for around six seconds, then pauses for around 20. This is them waiting for a response. However, if they don’t get one, they will grow frustrated and once the waiting period is over, it will turn into a continuous cry.

2. A hunger cry

Once again, the meaning of this cry is in its name. It starts out like a calling cry, however, it will turn into hysterics if they aren’t fed. They will also try to express their hunger by turning their head and using their mouth to make smacking sounds.

3. A pain cry

Just like us grownups, a baby will cry when they are in pain. A pain cry is monotonous, loud, and constant. It’s also worth noting that if the baby’s pain is increasing, there will be hysterical bursts as it does. Sometimes, if the pain they are experiencing is particularly draining, it will turn into a whimper as they don’t have the energy to properly cry.


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4. A physiological processes cry

Because babies are new to the world, the natural processes of their bodies can upset them – whether it’s bloating or pooping. They’ll express their discomfort when this happens in a slightly less concerning way by whining and squeaking.

5. A tired cry

Another problem that babies experience which we grownups can relate to is being very tried but simply being unable to sleep. When this happens, they will have an irritated and intermittent cry, which is usually accompanied by yawning. In addition to this, just like with a hungry cry, your baby could physically express the problem by rubbing their eyes and ears.

6. An environmental cry

This is the most difficult cry to understand, in our opinion, because it could represent a number of things. In short, if your baby isn’t happy about where they are, they will cry to prompt you to move them, or because they’re frustrated and bored.


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The noises your baby makes

When our little angels want to get our attention but aren’t necessarily upset, they will do the closest thing they can to speaking: make some noises. And while baby talk might seem nonsensical, it’s actually surprisingly meaningful. Don’t just take my word for it though, what you’re about to read is 20 years’ worth of research by pediatrician Priscilla Dunstan.


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7. ‘Neh’ – “I’m hungry!”

A baby makes this sound by pushing their tongue up onto the top of their mouth. This is them letting you know that they’re hungry – and let’s face it, it’s best to act quickly before this ends up turning into a less adorable hunger cry.

8. ‘Eh’ – “I’m going to burp!”

Once again, physiological process often elicits a response from a baby, and when they’re about to burp, they’ll let you know by making an ‘Eh’ sound, as wind slowly but surely begins to leave their system. How adorable!

9. ‘Owh’ – “I’m tired!”

Have you ever noticed how your lips fold before you yawn? Well, then this happens to a baby, they’ll often make an audible ‘Owh’ sound, which is a good sign for us parents that the time has come for them to settle down to sleep.

10. ‘Heh’ – “I have pain in my tummy!”

It doesn’t necessarily matter what the cause is, when there’s something uncomfortable going on in your baby’s stomach, they will often strain and jolt, causing them to make a ‘Heh’ sound that lets you know there’s something up.

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Baby Names