Learning to Speak Baby
What does that cry mean? What does that grunt mean? What does that noise mean?
Was that a burp, a fart or a hick-up? That is a new one … what the heck was that?
These are the questions I have been asking myself every day for the better part of the two months; since the day our son, Daniel John was born.
Daniel grunts mostly, but he has started to cry from time to time over the last few weeks or so.
There have been many times when Daniel is crying and I clearly don’t know or understand why. I have found myself thinking out loud, “What can I do for you, DJ?”
I have never been so frustrated in my life!!!
Lynn and I are lucky to have each other. If we aren’t getting anywhere, we can hand Danny Boy to the other and say, “You try.” Just the change of parent/holder can make a huge difference for Daniel.
According to the experts, babies cry for a number of reasons:
- They are hungry
- They have a dirty diaper
- They are tired or overtired
- They are in pain
- They are teething
- They don’t feel well or are sick
- They have gas and need to burp or pass gas
- They are colicky
- They want to be held or don’t want to be held
- They are cold or hot
- They are bored or overwhelmed
On the good news front if you pay attention, there are signs, which will help you determine what they are crying about.
“Daddy, I’m Hungry!”
Daniel brings his hands to his mouth, grunts (of course), smacks his lips and routes for a nipple when he is hungry.
Through my research, I have discovered that all of these are typical signs of hunger for newborns.
“Daddy, I Need a Diaper Change!”
Daniel doesn’t come right out and say he needs a change, but on the good news front he telegraphs like a rookie quarterback. Daniel grunts, groans, writhes, contorts and then farts or poops loudly enough for all to hear.
If that doesn’t work, most of the diapers we have used have color coded stripes to let you know when the diaper needs to be changed.
“Daddy, (Yawn) I’ve Had a Rough Hour or So”
Most of the time Daniel will just fall to sleep, but not always.
Daniel was home from the hospital for more than four weeks before we had a day without a visitor or overnight guest. Of course Daniel didn’t want to miss anything, so he would stay awake a little longer than maybe he should.
Pay attention to your baby. If they start to yawn, move them away from all of the activity, put them down or at least try to put them down, so that they may get the rest they need to grow.
“I am in Pain, Daddy. Make it Stop!”
Apparently there are a lot of things, which can cause a baby enough discomfort that they will cry.
Besides teething, which we will cover in a minute; a strand of hair wrapped around a finger or toe is a common cause for discomfort and tears for a baby. Who knew?
Clothing tags or itchy clothing are also a common culprit. Note: your baby may be allergic to the detergent you are using, so watch for a rash. Click here for a good article on skin allergies and the possible causes.
They may simply be uncomfortable. Simply adjusting the position, which they are lying or the way that they are being held, can make all the difference.
“Call the Tooth Fairy, I’m Getting My Teeth”
I think it is way too early for DJ to be teething. According to our pediatrician, most babies will start teething at around six or seven months.
When it comes to teething, there are some clear signs.
- Swollen gums
- Putting anything and everything into their mouth to chew on
- Visible teeth
- Face rubbing
- Not sleeping
- Loss of appetite
According to the Mayo Clinic you may help your baby by:
- Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger or moistened gauze pad
- Use a cold washcloth, spoon or chilled (not frozen) teething ring
- Offer cold hard foods, ie: peeled and chilled cucumber or carrot (beware of choking hazard)
- Dry and wipe away the drool, use a water-based cream or lotion
- Consult your pediatrician before using an over the counter ‘pain’ remedy
What not to do … although us Irish and apparently some other cultures have been known to use, whiskey, brandy, tequila and other alcohols to numb a baby’s gums, it is not recommended. There are other better and safer options.
“Daddy, I Feel Something Coming On”
Babies can’t tell you that they are sick. However, their cry will change.
Every now and then Daniel will cry with more of a scream. This is not his normal grunt or his brief little cries, this is a scream which says, “I am in pain!!!”
Trust your instincts.
Take their temperature and if it persists, call your pediatrician.
Did Somebody Step on a Duck?
(I’m channeling Rodney Dangerfield here. Remember, I’m from the generation, which insists on quoting the movies Caddyshack and Stripes. I can’t help it.)
Like Rodney’s character, Daniel gets gas after eating. His first burp typically comes as soon as we change his position.
However, when I am doing the burping, it can take up to 30 minutes to work it all out. I enjoy doing the burping, because it is daddy time. He just lays on my chest and lets me pat him or massage him on his lower back.
DJ can be burped, fall asleep and in an hour or so, need to be burped a little more, which is usually followed by a diaper change.
We call it “burping,” but the ultimate goal is to move gas or air out of the body whether our baby burps or it comes out the other end.
How to burp your baby?
There are a variety of techniques to burp your baby. Check out this video for a couple of options.
Is your baby is Colicky?
Fortunately, we did not have to deal with DJ being Colicky, so I wont presume to tell you how to deal with it, when it comes to your baby.
Here is a very good article, which will help you to understand what it is and how to help your baby.
If you do have a colicky baby, stay calm, our prayers are with you.
“Daddy, I wish you would hold me!”
Sometimes Daniel just wants to be held.
One day in particular, Lynn wasn’t home and it didn’t matter what I did, feed him, burp him, lay him on his back, lay him on his stomach, put him in his swing, lay him on his rocker … nothing worked, but laying him on my chest.
This was especially tough, because I was trying to work, as well, and it was an especially stressful work day, which, of course, DJ picked up on, which only made his stress worse.
Now, that is not always going to be the case, but sometimes, it is as simple as, “I want my daddy or mommy.”
“Daddy, I’m really not in the mood!”
Sometimes, believe it or not, babies just want to be alone. I believe that they are practicing to be teenagers.
You won’t know it is the case, until you put your baby down and walk away.
Use this valuable time to get something done. Lynn will tell you that I use it to play on Facebook.
Daddy, I think it is too hot or too cold in here!
Lynn and I like to bring Daniel out to our office in our pool house while we try to get some work done.
It isn’t that we like to keep it cold in the pool house (we do), it is that we like to keep DJ close to us and so he often ends up in the AC blast zone.
It is hard to know just how much blanket is needed to cover him. In this instance, he’s a lot like Goldilocks: that blanket is too hot; that blanket is too cold; and that blanket is just right.
The only way you will figure it out is by trial and error.
“Daddy, pay attention to me!”
Sometimes DJ just wants to be included and this will be true with your baby, too.
Just like adults, babies get bored. They are awake, lying wherever you have laid them down and are bored with the scenery or just want a little stimulation.
Sometimes it will be enough to give them something to play with and sometimes it will require you stopping what you are doing and spending some time entertaining your baby.
“Daddy, I just need a moment to myself!”
Again, just like adults, babies can be overwhelmed by too much stimulus.
There may be too many people or too much noise or just too much going on around them.
So far, Daniel has been really good in crowds, loud restaurants, shopping and even a backyard pool party and barbecue, at which, a number of our friends and family held him and passed him around. As usual, he slept through most of it, anyway.
When it comes to your baby crying, you will learn most by trial and error.
If their need is not immediately obvious, you will have to explore the possibilities.
At some point, you will start to be able to discern what each cry means. Sometimes there will be other signs, for example; Daniel puts his hand up to his mouth when he is hungry.
Eventually, you will be able to teach them baby sign language and you will be able to communicate effectively, while they learn to speak.
Most importantly, just remain calm and work with your baby to figure out what he or she needs from their Daddy!
By Bill Robertson