Even before she can speak, your baby is telling you what she’s thinking and feeling. Decipher the secret language of your baby
You may love your baby more than anything in the world, but she sure does put your mind-reading skills to the test. After all, she can’t always tell you what she wants and you may sometimes end up feeling like you’re having a slightly one-sided conversation.
Luckily, focusing on a few key details will help you decode her behaviour and work out what she’s after in no time.
Your baby's first clench
Your baby can clench her fist intentionally from around four or five months. In the nicest possible way, she’s telling you to back off. She’s probably tired, frustrated or feeling a bit crowded and is asking for space. ‘You may also see her kicking her legs, grimacing or turning her face away,' says Claire. 'She’s feeling her emotions physically and reacting how we wish we could when we need a break.’
HOW TO REPLY Stop playing for 10 minutes so she can calm down, then tone down the intensity of what you’re doing by moving a little further away and making your movements and gestures slower.
Always use a soothing voice to reassure her, and say, “Is that a bit too much?” – she’ll understand your tone, if not the words.
Crying and reaching out
When she reaches between six and eight months, a certain cry when you disappear from her sight indicates separation anxiety. Listen for a distressed cry, often with pleading eyes and reaching up to you.
HOW TO REPLY Soothe your baby, but also show her there’s nothing to worry about. ‘Start by leaving the room for a few minutes while she’s with someone else, then return, gradually increasing the number of minutes over time,’ says Claire.
This helps her realise you’ll always come back and you still exist, even when she can’t see you. Playing peekaboo is a simple form of this.
Between six and eight months, a certain cry when you disappear from her sight indicates separation anxiety
What it means when she claps
From around eight months, your child will be able to clap her hands. She’s showing off the fact she can control her actions in this way and proudly saying to you, “Look what I can do!” ‘The surprise and excitement means she’ll probably do it more than once,’ explains Amanda.
HOW TO REPLY Mirror her joy back at her by clapping yourself. Make eye contact, smile and take it in turns to clap. ‘Again, it’s that give-and-take idea that’s so important for her communication skills,’ says Amanda.
This is also a good time to start showing your baby other ‘excited’ gestures, which she can learn to mimic, such as raising your arms to cheer. Make sure to exaggerate your movements, so she can understand and copy them more easily.