Recognising baby cues
Babies use non-verbal language, called cues, to let us know what they need. Responding to these cues when you see them helps your baby feel safe and secure. All babies are different and each baby develops her own mix of signs to tell you what she wants. So what do some of these baby cues look like?
Watch the video to find out more about why and when babies cry, and about baby cues.
Baby cues that say 'I'm tired'
Tired signs in babies include:
- staring into the distance
- jerky movements
- sucking fingers
- losing interest in people or toys.
Watch the video to see what these cues look like in real babies. Find out what to do next when you recognise tired signs in your baby.
Baby cues that say ‘I'm hungry’
Newborns need to feed every 2-3 hours. When your baby is hungry, she might:
- make sucking noises
- turn towards the breast.
You can start look for these cues every 1-2 hours in newborns or every 3-4 hours for an older baby.
Looking for your baby's hunger signs is a better way to work out when to feed than waiting for a set number of hours.
Watch the video to see what hunger cues look like in real babies.
Baby cues that say ‘I want to play’
Older babies usually follow a ‘feed-play-sleep’ routine.
Cues that your baby is ready to play with you include:
- eyes wide and bright
- making eye contact with you
- smooth movements
- reaching out to you.
Watch the video to find more signs that your baby is ready to play and to see these baby cues in action.
Baby cues that say ‘I need a break’
Babies who are four months and older might not always be ready for a nap after their play time. Sometimes, they are looking for a change of pace or activity. So what do these baby cues look like?
If your baby wants a break from what he’s doing, he might:
- turn his head away from you
- squirm or kick.
Watch the video to find more signs that your baby is wants to change activity and to see these baby cues in action.
Baby Cues diary
Your baby might give cues that can help you understand what’s going on and how to respond. All babies are different, and each baby will develop his own mix of signs – they might not be very obvious so don’t be too hard on yourself if you are having trouble working out what your baby needs.
To help you recognise your baby's cues, print out this diary and write down what you notice: