Body language, infant cues and how we feel
As we continue to live day by day, I think now is a real important time to focus on our body language. Before we can even speak, we use body language to communicate with our loved ones. As time goes by new parents learn what each of these signs can mean. This can take some time as one sign may mean many different things. For example, nuzzling into their mother’s chest can be tiredness or maybe they are on their way to helping themselves to some milk! What I am referring to here is called infant cues. Whatever way you look at cues it is an interpretation of body language. I can never stress this enough to the families I work with, understanding your baby or child’s body language is essential to understanding what they need when they are nonverbal. You did the same thing perhaps when you met your partner, that look they give you… you know what it means without a single word being exchanged. Over half of our communication is through our body language. It is through investing our time in understanding our children’s body language that we can enjoy each other’s company more.
Another factor which impacts on our children’s mood, behaviour and sleep is the body language we are relaying through our actions. This is really hard in times like now when there is so much uncertainty in the world but I encourage each of you to ‘check in’ with how you are feeling. Each and everyone one of us feels differently about the current situation and that is okay. By knowing and understanding how you are feeling will help you to understand how your child may be feeling. I know that sounds quite deep, but I am asking you consider are you as tight as a drum or are you fairly chilled? If you are seriously tight and anxious, I want you to think about what would make you feel more relaxed. This could include
- Limiting access to news
- Getting outside and having a hot cup of tea on the verandah
- It may be some gentle exercise
- Reading a book or cooking a meal
- It may be hugging your baby and letting them sleep on your chest while you rest or catch up on Netflix.
There may be many other things that you can do to feel a little more at ease and do as much of it as you need to, there are no rules and it is definitely not a time to pass judgement on yourself. If you are feeling really stressed, your baby is sensing this and will probably wake up more to check on you. Doesn’t that sound sweet until it’s the 10th wake up before midnight. Your little one will probably cry more than normal and also, they might not even go to sleep to start with. This can be incredibly frustrating for you but some of the tips above should help.
Another way to think about it is that day, long ago, when you wanted your child to have a quick sleep before the coffee with friends. That’s the day your little one either won’t go to sleep, go to sleep for a three-hour nap when your friends have just met or they won’t let you put them down. They sense what is going on, they are so clever and they do genuinely care. If you are trying to resettle a baby and, in your head, you are thinking this is never going to work, your head will win. The approach you take will lead to the outcome that you want. Little people need time and energy to learn new skills and if you don’t have time or energy to invest in it, they won’t master the skill.
I challenge you all over the coming weeks to slow down and think about how you are feeling, explore your loved one’s body language and back yourself.