Parenthood is one of the most rewarding and thrilling experiences. Once you hold your little one in your arms, feelings of exhilaration and joy immediately take over and it’s a feeling truly unexplainable. You get thrilled by every utterance and visual gesture that your child makes through this form of communication. And you’d probably have your video camera ready just to record those precious moments. But those gestures are signals of some sort. What are they? You might ask. Keep reading our article on understanding baby body language to know more.

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Crying, kicking, paced breathing, and sucking fingers are some of the common baby cues that you should look out for.


Babies cry for various reasons. It’s their sole manner of expressing themselves and learning what they need from their crying patterns is extremely important. Each cry has a distinct tone and is pretty distinguishable from the other. Here are some of the most common ones you need to pay attention to:

  • Hungry: You will hear a low-pitched, rhythmic repetitive cry accompanied by other signals such as lip-smacking, drawing attention to the breast, and a type of sucking motion. This is the time you step in and feed the child. When the child is too hungry, it starts sucking in the air along with the milk, which leads to gas forming in the stomach. That’s why you need to pay keen attention to hunger cues.
  • Tiredness: The baby will cry a whiny, nasal pitch that fluctuates. It builds slowly and then reaches a higher intensity. It means that the baby has had enough and maybe it’s time for bed. It’s usually accompanied by eye rubbing or incessant yawning, so watch out for those visual cues. This type of crying could also mean that the baby is uncomfortable. It could be due to a dirty diaper or a position that the baby feels uncomfortable sitting in.
  • Sickness: In this case, your baby will cry more often than usual. Soft, nasal lower pitch sounds are the most common cues. It’ll feel as if your baby has no strength to amplify the cry. Search for other symptoms such as rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, etc, and contact your pediatrician.

Continuous Kicking 

Continuous kicking is one of the most common ways of communication. And it’s completely normal. It usually means that your child is in good spirits and is content. Anything can elicit this constant kicking motion: it could be the sight of seeing you or something amusing like a favorite soft toy. Basically, anything that excites your baby will automatically elevate your little one’s mood. And you will want this kicking motion as often as possible since it develops the child’s legs muscles, ultimately developing the child’s ability to crawl. So, keep your baby content as much as possible.

Apart from being happy, this motion could also indicate irritability or discomfort. You’ll notice your baby being a bit more grumpy than usual, so check for a dirty diaper or a bloated stomach.     

Baby Hiccups 

It’s completely normal for your child to hiccup often especially during its first year. It’s a sign of overfeeding or feeding quickly and it’s not much of a concern as long as it’s not affecting the baby. Baby hiccups last for around 10-15 minutes so you can wait it out and see if they disappear. If they happen often and cause some sort of inconvenience to the child, then it’s better to consult your pediatrician.

Just a general rule of thumb, whether you breastfeed or formula feed your child, sit your baby upright for at least 20 -30 minutes to eliminate any form of acid reflux. If the causes of the hiccups are unknown, gently rubbing the baby’s back also helps.  

Paced Breathing

If you notice your baby breathing faster than usual while maintaining a happy face, there’s nothing to be worried about. It just means that your baby cannot contain its excitement and it goes away after a few minutes. This rapid breathing reaction could also happen when the baby is startled, especially when it’s fast asleep. In such a case, divert the baby’s attention to something else. If the baby is inconsolable, call your pediatrician up.

Sucking Fingers

There could be several reasons why babies start sucking their fingers. The primary reason could be that they’re hungry. So, they’re emulating the latching and sucking pattern since it comes to them naturally. If they still continue to do so even after they’re fed, it could just be a relaxing technique and again there’s nothing to be worried about. But if your baby is not hungry, it means that it is preparing to fall asleep, like a soothing technique. To reduce the risk of infections from entering, you could give your child a pacifier instead: a much safer way of self-soothing.    


This indicates tiredness and it’s time to go to sleep. This is accompanied by droopy eyelids and incessant yawning. When you see this, hold your baby in your arms, sing a lullaby, and put them to sleep. But just to be on the safer side, check the eyelids of the child. There could be a possibility that some foreign particle like dust or an eyelash entered the child’s eye. It could also be a symptom of eye infection as well, so if the eye is red and the habit persists, contact your pediatrician immediately. Eye infections are usually accompanied by swollen eyelids or yellow discharge leaking from the child’s eyes. So, watch out for those signs as well.

understanding baby body language

Understanding baby body language will help you cater to your child’s needs better.


Understanding baby body language is no rocket science. You only need to allow your parental instincts to drive in to understand what your child wants to convey. After all, only you know your child best! To help you with keeping track of your child’s vaccination appointments, you can use the ImmunifyMe app. You can book online consultations with pediatricians and keep track of your child’s progress through the online growth tracker feature in our app.  

FAQs On Understanding Baby Body Language

What Does Baby Cue Mean? 

Simply put, baby cues are signals given by your baby. They give out certain cues so that parents can understand whether the child is happy, sad, hungry, or irritated. The baby will also give out specific signals to know that they’re ready to communicate to you or otherwise. That’s why it’s important to recognize and study your baby’s habits in order to understand these cues. 

Do Excited Babies Kick? 

Incessant kicking is one of the prominent signs of excitement. You’ll notice that when you bring a favorite toy or perform something amusing for your child. The continuous kicking could also mean that the child is in discomfort. Check for a dirty diaper, or if your child’s stomach is bloated.   

What Are Some Baby Cues?

Understanding baby body language is important. Here are some common cues that you need to watch out for:

  • Crying 
  • Continuous Kicking
  • Baby Hiccups 
  • Paced Breathing 
  • Sucking Fingers 
  • Eye Rubbing