How To Communicate Successfully With Your Newborn Baby

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Your baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual so you will need to learn what she is trying to tell you through the cues she gives you, says Emma's Diary

Understanding these cues will help you give your baby the positive experiences she needs for healthy brain development.

Brain development

  • Although your baby’s brain is able to tell her how to feed, cry and coo as soon as she is born, it is still not fully developed and it needs to continue to grow. You can help this process by providing a safe, interesting world for your baby to live in through understanding and responding to her needs.
  • Babies who are happy and content release chemicals that help to develop healthy connection within the brain.


  • From birth your baby will enjoy looking at faces and she will be able to see your face when you hold her in your arms.
  • At first she will only be able to focus fleetingly but over the next few months she will start to focus for longer and will show pleasure at familiar faces and when she is being spoken to.


  • Your baby’s hearing is well developed at birth band you may notice that she responds to your voice. This is because she heard your voice in the womb and recognises it.
  • Speaking gently and soothingly to her will help her to feel relaxed and safe.


  • Chemicals which affect the brain are released when your baby is cuddled. Giving your baby a cuddle will soothe tension and provide reassurance so your baby really does benefit from having lots of cuddles.

Your social baby

  • Your baby will interact with your from very early on, long before she learns to smile. She will imitate facial gestures by moving her tongue and will widen her eyes when she looks at you.
  • As she gets older she will remain interested for longer periods and eye-to-eye contact will last for longer too and she will start to smile. You may notice that her mouth is very mobile, with her tongue coming forward almost as though she is trying to speak. Sometimes called “pre-speech”, this is your baby’s first effort at communication.

Baby cues

Here are some of the cues that your baby may use to communicate with you:

Engagement cues – Signs to look out for:

  • Smiling
  • Chuckling
  • Turning towards you
  • Bright eyes
  • Reaching out to you
  • Making babbling sounds

Disengagement cues – Signs to look out for:

  • Crying
  • Squirming
  • Fussing and being upset
  • Turning head away
  • Yawning
  • Jerky, restless movements

Ready to play –Signs to look out for:

  • All the engagement signs above
  • Good eye contact
  • “Pre-speech” – an open mouth with tongue movement, as though she is trying to talk
  • Arms raised with fingers open

Read to sleep – Signs to look out for:

  • Drowsiness
  • Glazed eyes
  • Turns away from you
  • Becomes fussy and irritable
  • Doesn’t want to be touched or cuddled
  • Tires to avoid light and noise 

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