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Understanding Your Baby's Behavior

Infant Cues
Babies Cry
Healthy Sleep
More Tips & Guidelines
For Providers
  • Infant Cues


    Babies use certain "cues" or behaviors to tell us what they need. Learning to understand what your baby is telling you makes everything easier!

    Engagement Cues
    • eyes open
    • looks intently at your face
    • follows your voice and face
    • smiles
    • relaxes face
    • smooth body movements
    • feeding sounds
    • rooting

    What to do? When your baby is engaged, it's time to play or feed (if your baby is showing hunger cues like rooting or feeding sounds). Remember, playing is hard work for baby and baby tires easily.

    Disengagement Cues
    • turns or looks away
    • pushes away or arches back
    • cries
    • coughs
    • extends fingers with a stiff hand
    • yawns or falls asleep
    • grimaces
    • has a glazed look

    What to do? Play detective and follow the cues to figure out what needs to be different.

  • Babies Cry


    What to know about crying
    If you start to feel angry or overwhelmed because of your baby's crying, you can put the baby down in a safe place and take a break. Ask a friend or family member for help. Contact your doctor if you think their baby is crying too much.
    • All babies cry.
    • Crying is upsetting for a reason. It's a signal that the baby needs help.
    • Newborns have to be fed more often and they are more likely than older babies to be hungry when they cry.
    • Watching and responding to early cues can help prevent some crying.
    • It is common for a six-week old baby to cry on-and-off for up to two hours per day.
    • Babies cry less and less as they get older.
    Steps to Calm a Crying Baby
    Babies use crying as a way to communicate many different things. They use crying to tell parents that they need their help. When your baby is crying:
    1. Try to Figure Out the Reason for Crying. Is he or she:
      • In need of a diaper change
      • Too hot or too cold
      • Overstimulated
      • Tired
      • Hungry
      • Uncomfortable
    2. Hold your baby Close to You.
    3. Repeat the same action over and over again. You might also try one of the following:
      • Speaking or singing softly
      • Gently rocking, swaying or bouncing your baby
      • Gently massaging her back, arms, and legs
    4. Be Patient: Calming your baby takes time. Sticking with the same action for several minutes before trying something different can be the secret to success.
  • Healthy Sleep:
    For You and Your Baby


    When babies are young, waking keeps them safe and healthy. Waking up with babies can be hard for new parents. Knowing what to expect will help you feel more relaxed and confident.

    There are 2 types of infant sleep: "Active Sleep" and "Quiet Sleep"
    Babies use crying as a way to communicate many different things. They use crying to tell parents that they need their help. When your baby is crying:
    • Active sleep causes blood and nutrients to go to your baby's brain. Babies' brains need active sleep to grow and develop!
    • Dreaming is healthy for babies. When babies are dreaming they are easier to wake up.
    • Quiet sleep is deep sleep and is important for the brain to rest.
  • See more Tips & Guidelines for Infants & Children:
  • For Providers