Social Babies and Their Cues
When an actual real life breathing ball of human is thrust upon you, they can take a lot of working out. One thing I have noticed is that many people think babies just eat, sleep or poo and very little in between. Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to communicate. They are in fact extremely sociable from day one.
Newborn babies have six states of consciousness (a very difficult word to spell at 01:10 when getting Baby N back to sleep). Jen and I have been reading ‘What to Expect – The First Year’ to get some idea on the cues Baby N is giving us so we know what she wants. If we’re all on the same page it would make life a hell of a lot eaiser.
Now, some of these states of consciousness are obvious like the crying stage. 99% of the time this means ‘I’m hungry, for the love of God why are you not feeding me’. Some are less obvious cues which I can only compare to how the mind of a female operates from a male perspective.
These are the six states of consciousness (that one took me three attempts to spell correctly);
Stage 1 – Quiet Alert
Baby is awake. She spends all her energy watching and listening intently. This is something at 32 years of age I am yet to master. She is likely to make a lot of eye contact and watch what the bigger human is doing in front of her, not that she knows she’s a human herself of course. We found Baby N would do a few minutes before having enough of my ugly mug.
Stage 2 – Active Alert
Baby is awake. She kicks and throws her arms and legs and makes small sounds such as faster breathing. She is taking in the bigger picture and becomes less sociable. Very much like on a Saturday night after ten beers and your mate calls “Jaeger bombs!” During active alert, Baby N doesn’t make eye contact and tends to do that weird looking through you stare. As she’s got older it’s become more apparently that she doesn’t want any attention. The turn of the head feels like a metaphorical kick in the balls sometimes.
Stage 3 – Crying
This is a stage I am very familiar with. If you’re not ready baby’s social cues you will get a very sudden and in your face ‘please go way, I want to do my own thing for a bit’. However, it could also tell you if baby is hungry, cold, hot, uncomfortable or tired. So many, many chances for you to get it wrong several times over during the first weeks. Don’t worry, everyone does.
Stage 4 – Drowsiness
This is baby face making time. Baby will start to make facial gestures that cover elation, surprised, grumpy and everything in between. This happens when waking up and nodding off to sleep. Make sure you take photos of these faces as they will soon change as she grows up way too quickly.
Stage 5 – Quiet Sleep
Baby is relaxed, eyes are closed and movement is rare with regular breathing. Quiet sleep alternates every thirty to forty minutes with active sleep. Creep around very quietly. And don’t stare at them for too long. Somehow they know when you stare at them for too long and wake up and start Stage 1 again!
Stage 6 – Active Sleep
Arms and legs move quite a bit, sucking or chewing noises are heard and REM (rapid eye movement) occurs. Throw in some irregular breathing and it’s basically a babies version of a sleep rave. Considering all the goings on, it’s actually a very restful state for baby.