Reading Newborn Facial Expressions


The first days, weeks, and couple of months with your newborn baby are sure to be a blur with many new experiences. During that time you are learning about your baby, as they are learning about you and the world around them. It may take you sometime to get into a rhythm and understand their needs. This can also change as they hit developmental milestones. Every baby and parent is different, but the more time you spend together, the more you being to figure out what they are “telling” you.

Take time getting to know your baby. Pay attention to their cries, coos, movements, and how they respond to you. Babies can learn early on that what they do will have an effect on you and elicit a particular response.

While every baby is different, so is his or her relationship with their parent or caregiver. It will take consistent practice and observation on both sides to start to develop and understand the unique and individual patterns. However, there are some pretty common developmental cues you can look for that can guide you toward what your baby is asking for.


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I’m interested-let’s do more of this
* Eyes widening/brightening
* Looks at you or an interesting object
* Smiles or shows expressions of joy
* Reaches for things (like your nose)

I’m hungry!
* Shows rooting behaviors (face turns towards you with mouth open)-rubbing/sucking on your shirt
* Makes mouth movements
* Puts things in mouth

I’m sleepy
* Rubs  eyes
* Rubs  face on your shirt
* Pulls on an ear
* Gets fussy

I need a break
* Turns away
* Arches  back or twists
* Fusses or cries
* Closes  eyes
* Shows dull or glassy eyes
* Grab his/her hands or his/her body for comfort

Pay attention to how your baby responds to your reactions to these cues. If something doesn’t work right away, don’t be frustrated. You can try again later or try something else, but remember patience and consistency is key.

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