What’s up?! Learning to communicate with a baby

I can’t believe how much there is to learn about babies. I am doing things instintivley that I literally had no clue about just a few days ago! As my confidence grows and I’m building up a repetoire of experiences of both the tough times and good times, I think that Phoenix and I are starting to understand each other. Well, not that he worries too much about what my needs are – we’re still fully on ‘Phoenix time’ at the moment, but it helps if I can work out what he’s up to.

I remember at one of the antenatal classes I was told that mums are able to tell what different cries mean and learn to identify their baby’s needs through body language. I remember finding that concept quite bewildering – how the heck can a baby tell you what he wants without speaking?! And isn’t crying just crying?! I wondered what would happen if I didn’t pick up this supernatural ability to translate baby language; would I ever know what on earth was going on and how to fix it? To be honest, up until recently I’ve been pretty clueless; all the cries seemed to blur into one loud god awful noise! But lately I think I’m more able to differentiate between cries and noises…well most of the time at least 🙂

This new skill has been quite life changing for me because it takes less time to problem solve when somethings up. Since Phoenix was born I’ve had this constant check list spinning around my head – dirty nappy? feed time? tired? bored? wind? And if after ticking all those boxes there is still an unhappy baby, then it’s wet your pants time – what’s wrong?!!! But I think over the last couple of days I’ve been more relaxed in my response to crying and grizzling and have had the confidence to seperate real crying from crying for cryings sake.

Crying for the sake of crying is the worst crime a baby can commit and in Phoenix’s case it’s always when he’s overtired which is the hardest tick box to complete. Once he’s reached this phase it’s almost too late. There’s little I can do to stop this kind of crying and if he reaches the point when he’s worked himself into a state there’s no other option but to let him cry it out: a tough initiation for any new parent. As I mentioned in my last entry we’ve been experiencing a bit of this type of behaviour in the evenings. We’ve now sussed out that Phoenix has about a 10-15 min crying cut-off point. This was discovered a couple of nights a go when, determined to put an end to the post-evening feed grizzles, we went out pram pushing at about 9pm. Usually the pram is like baby hypontheapy and instantly puts him to sleep but he persisted with his crying in the pram! This was slightly scary as I thought the pram was a fail safe – damn it, who had been messing with the baby silencer functioner on my vehicle?! But I had a hunch that if we just kept going he would stop, so like a pair of zombies we trudged around the neighbourhood willing him stop. Eventually he did and fell into a deep sleep until 1.30am. If he fails to hit all of his naps in the day the same thing will happen at night, it’s literally a case of turn the music up, put the pillow over your head and ride out that crying storm. I feel so guilty leaving him to cry but now I know he’s just being a stubborn horse and is fighting sleep I don’t feel as bad.

So here’s a run down of what I have interpreted from Phoenix’s speak so far, he’ll never be able to confirm if this is correct so I’ll just naively pretend that this is a result of skilful and intuitive mothering 🙂

1) Mouth open and closing, neck wildly swinging about – Where the hell is that bloody nipple?

2) Fist in mouth = Hunger strikes! I need to get my eat on soon!

3) Loud, frantic wail, red face = You’ve missed all the cues, feed me right now woman!

4) Lathargic, wimpish cry = I don’t want to go in my bed, pick me up for a cuddle…alternatively you can leave me to groan to myself and I’ll fall asleep eventually

5) As above but building into more frantic, extended but broken crying = I’m refusing to go to sleep, welcome to hell

6) Frustrated grunting and straining whilst feeding = yep, you better believe it mum, I am actually about to poo whilst eating. Impressive, I know

7) Desperate panting when held by me = I’m not hungry but I want a cuddle; you stink of milk mum and you’re driving me insane, give me to dad asap!

8) Staggered cries, face looks in pain = Ouch, wind me quick!

9) Relieved sigh and slouch following successful winding = ahhhhh that’s better, now where were we…

10) Calm, regular breathing, gazing into my face = I’m clean, I’m fed, I’m relaxed, good job mum

So now I’m constantly striving to get to ‘number 10’ as painlessly as possible. As of today I’ve decided to try and introduce a proper evening bedtime routine. As Phoenix approaches 4 weeks I’m wondering for how long I can keep saying ‘he’s too young to be in a routine yet’ so I’m going to try and bite the bullet and get on with it. My first challenge is to shift from feeding on demand to proper scheduled feeds. I don’t think I’m going to be too strict as he’s still changing loads and is needing more and more milk from me but I’m going to give it a go….will let you know how it goes!

Ems x

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5 thoughts on “What’s up?! Learning to communicate with a baby

  1. Johanna Moss says:

    I’m very much enjoying reading your blog and I can’t wait to do this baby thing all over again! Second one and a boy this time, due in December! Phoenix is a cutie!

  2. Kirsty says:

    Hi Emma, My Eamonn was born on 22nd, so very close to Phoenix! This post in particular made me laugh as I was reading it whilst feeding a frantic little man who had his feed delayed because I was driving. I know those cues!! Good luck with the routine, I think I’m starting to get one sorted a bit now, so hopefully it’s possible.

  3. Tash says:

    Seems that both Phoenix and you are learning so much already! I’m still at the stage where one baby cry sounds like another, but perhaps that’ll change when the baby’s my own. Hope you’re having a weekend with lots of ‘number 10s’ (that definitely sounds like a euphemism) ;o)

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