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Baby Communication: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Baby

Baby Communication: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Baby

Babies don't usually talk until well into toddlerhood; the average child can start to string together sentences between 18 months and 2 years old.

There is nothing as sweet as the baby phase. Soon those gentle little coos will turn into adorable words, but for now, you're stuck guessing what your baby needs. 

While they won't be able to ask for milk or a diaper change just yet, if you pay close attention, you'll notice that there are trends in the way your baby communicates their needs. 

Besides facial emotion and body language, there are also distinctive types of baby cries that can alert you to whatever the problem is. Remember that each baby is unique, so it'll be up to you to recognize the cues.

This baby communication essential guide will help you understand just what it is that your baby is trying to tell you. 

The Building Blocks of Baby Communication

Touch, sounds, and meaningful glances; the beginning of your baby's life is full of communication. 

From the moment they enter the world, your baby is paying attention to everything around them. Through their senses, they are able to absorb new information all the time. This constant stream of knowledge and awareness will help them gain the ability to communicate. 

Make sure to talk to your baby, imitate sounds, and aid them in this communication journey. 

Crying 

Babies are born with the ability to cry. But what does their cry mean? Do they have a dirty diaper, are they hungry, or are they tired?

As your baby grows, they'll acquire new skills to communicate with you, but in the meantime, the cry may be the only way they can get their point across to you.

An upset cry may sound choppy and high-pitched, while a hungry cry might be a bit lower and short. 

Pay attention to their cries and what actions soothe them. Over time, you may recognize patterns in your baby's crying. 

Gestures

A reach up to your breast can mean that your baby is hungry. A nuzzle can signify that they are tired.

Use the sounds that accompany the gestures to best decipher what your little one is trying to say. 

When Should I Get Help?

If you hear a painful sounding cry or an unusual cry, make sure to get medical attention right away. It could be nothing serious, but crying is the major way your little one is going to communicate with you. 

Another thing to pay attention to is new sounds accompanied by odd behavior. If your baby is eating less, has fewer bowel movements, or is seeming less active than usual, call your doctor for advice. They could be sick or have a food allergy

Wunder What Your Baby's Saying? 

At Wunder, we are here for every step of your little one's adventure. From baby communication milestones to the best ways to feed your toddler, we cover the A to Z's of parenthood. 

On the go? Be sure to check out the Wunder Baby Tracker App to help keep track of every important moment you encounter on this beautiful journey.

The Science of Wunder, Part 1

The Science of Wunder, Part 1

What are Developmental Milestones?

This is the first in a series of planned articles about the scientific principles behind the Wunder platform. We want you to know why we built each piece the way we did, and why they matter for your child.


You’ve probably been hearing about developmental milestones since the day your baby was born, or maybe even earlier. You talk about them with your pediatrician or parent friends, you use Wunder or another app to track them, and you probably do some Googling on the side. But what are milestones, really? Why are they important? And why did we pick the ones we did for Wunder?


A developmental milestone is fundamentally the same as any other milestone: an event, or a personal checkpoint, that shows growth or positive change. Some milestones for adults are big, like graduating college or having a baby; some are smaller, like passing the first exam of the semester. Some usually happen around the same time for most people, while others may vary. 


All of this is true for babies, too. Most children tend to achieve most milestones at around the same time, but others have very wide windows. Everyone knows the big milestones -- walking, talking, and so on -- but some of the others might leave you scratching your head. They all mean something important, though: your baby is growing up. And by following their milestones, you can learn a little more about how they’re growing up.


For example, let’s take one of those more puzzling milestones: at around 6 to 9 months, most children will look for an object after you drop it on the floor (though not necessarily in the right direction). Why does that matter? Because those children are demonstrating two important emerging cognitive abilities: memory, and an understanding of cause-and-effect/sequencing ‘Mom dropped something from up there, and now it’s on the floor!’. 


(By the way, if you ever want an explanation like this for another Wunder milestone, try tapping it! Each of our milestones has a detail page that explains:

1) why it’s important and

2) what its typical age range of achievement is.)


Now, there’s not just one list of milestones out there. Every major child development organization has their own based on child development research they’ve conducted or sourced, and curated depending on what they think is most important. To build the Wunder curriculum, we started with the gold standard in the United States: the CDC. From there, we consulted several other sources from the US and abroad, including high-quality developmental assessments and early childhood education standards documentation. 


We wanted our milestone selection to be rich, full of educational opportunities for you and your child, but still logical and relatively easy to follow. Since then, we’ve been working on improving Wunder to make sure understanding your child’s progress is as easy as opening the app.


Next time… Developmental Domains!

The Science of Baby Sleep and How to get your baby to "Sleep Like A Baby"

The Science of Baby Sleep and How to get your baby to "Sleep Like A Baby"

Newborn sleep patterns usually include sleeping for 16-18 hours in every 24-hour period. When they're not sleeping, they're probably eating.

Until they reach 8-10 weeks old, most newborns will spend most of their days sleeping. As your baby gets older, their wake windows get longer and they spend more time awake and fewer hours sleeping.

Types of Sleep

To really understand newborn sleep and why they sleep so much (and why they have no concept of night and day), you need to know about the two different types of sleep: REM sleep and non-REM sleep,

REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is light sleep, where dreams occur. Your eyes move rapidly back and forth. About half of the sleep that newborns have is REM sleep. 

Non-REM sleep has four different stages:

  1. Drowsiness, drooping eye, dozing
  2. Light sleep; babies may startle or jump when they hear a noise
  3. Deep sleep; babies are quiet and don't move much
  4. Very deep sleep 

Baby sleep patterns include cycling through non-REM sleep during the night. Once they get through stage 1, they cycle through stages 2-4 several times during their sleep. As they pass from one stage to another, they may waken slightly and find it difficult to go back to sleep. This is why some babies wake many times during the night, even if they aren't hungry. 

Sleep All Day, Party All Night? 

If it seems like your baby doesn't know the difference between night and day, it's because they don't. Adult sleep is controlled by circadian rhythms, which babies haven't yet developed. Circadian rhythms govern our 24-hour internal clock and tell our body when it's time to wake up and wind down. 

Because newborns spend 9 months in the womb, where it is dark all the time, they aren't born with these rhythms. Instead, it takes time to teach them when it's time to sleep and time to be awake. 

You can help your baby develop their circadian rhythm by doing the following: 

  • Reduce stimulation at night (keep lights to a minimum during bedtime and night feedings; try a nightlight or a red bulb in a lamp)
  • Make sure to expose your baby to plenty of daylight during the day—get outside, open the blinds and curtains, etc. 
  • Create a bedtime routine that is the same each night

Even if you get your baby to recognize the differences between day and night and teach them that night time means it's time to sleep, it still may take months (or even longer) for them to sleep through the night. 

Babies, especially newborns, have small stomachs and often need to eat every 3-4 hours. These stretches get longer as they get older, but it will take some time to get there. Your pediatrician may also have you wake your baby to feed them if they aren't gaining enough weight.

Sleep Like a Baby?

Whoever came up with that saying must not have really known how babies sleep! Now that you have a bit more insight into the answer to "how much do newborns sleep," you can start working on helping your newborn learn circadian rhythms and know what's going on as they cycle through non-REM sleep. 

To help you keep track of your baby's sleep, check out Wunder. We have a new product coming in summer 2020 that uses AI to help keep track of everything about your baby and assist you in parenting. For now, you can ask a Wunder coach from the comfort of your home) about sleep or download the Wunder app with over 600+ activities you can do with your baby to help them reach critical developmental milestones!