In the first year of life, babies feel a wide range of emotions such as distress, fear, joy, interest and sadness. Babies can not talk, but parents can learn to understand how they are feeling if they watch them carefully.

Your baby’s emotional life

When you understand what your baby is feeling and why they might be feeling that way, you can better meet their  needs. Over time, your baby will learn that you are there when they need you. By observing your baby carefully you will learn to read their signals and respond to their needs. This will help them understand and learn to cope with their own emotions as they grow.

New parents may often feel like crying is the only way their baby communicates, but as you get to know your baby, you’ll realize that they can communicate using both verbal and non-verbal cues. Once your baby starts to smile, for example, you’ll notice that they often “smile” with their whole body.

Your baby is probably showing “I like it” when:

  • they are quietly alert and attentive
  • they are smiling
  • their face “brightens” when you smile or speak or sing

When your baby shows some of the following behaviours, they may be saying “I don’t like it”:

  • pouting
  • whimpering
  • eyes partly closed or looking away
  • turning away from you
  • tight fists
  • crawling away

Your baby is probably saying “I need you” when they:

  • reach up with their arms
  • look for you
  • start making more sounds
  • lean or crawls towards you

Every baby is unique and by looking into your baby’s eyes, holding them close, talking, singing and reading to them and learning about their different cries, you and your baby are learning how to communicate with each other.

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Building a secure attachment

There are many factors that affect your child’s happiness and health. One of the very important factors is your early relationship with your baby. When your baby can trust you to meet their needs, they will feel loved and secure. This is called secure attachment and is important for your baby’s social and emotional development.