Why it’s important


From the time of birth, babies try to communicate.

They cry when they’re hungry. They cry when they’re overtired. They squirm or they sneeze when they’re uncomfortable. When they feel good, their eyes may be wide open with their hands up. These behaviours are all part of a built-in repertoire of ways to interact with the outside world.

How do you interpret your baby’s behaviour? She’s crying, how do you know what she is trying to say? Is she hungry, tired, in pain? Why won’t she stop crying? Not so easy, and yet, amazingly you start to understand your child. With a bit of practice, you become the one who speaks for her best.

At first, you’ll notice two types of behavioural cues:

Signs of stability or availability


Signs of distress

With a bit of practice, you’ll learn to recognize when the baby wants to interact with you and when she would rather be left alone. You’ll notice which aspects of her surroundings (light, noise, temperature) she finds uncomfortable, and you’ll know how to adjust accordingly.

This module offers hints on interpreting a baby’s signals and finding out the sources of distress. You will learn how to soothe your baby and how to help her calm down on her own (self-regulation). This module applies to the baby’s first few months.

A baby that feels good is a baby open to interacting, to discovering the environment, and to learning new things.

Research and Development

Catherine Chaput, Master’s student, Occupational Therapy
Julie Gosselin, Professor, Occupational Therapy, University of Montreal
Thuy Mai Luu, Pediatrician, CHU Sainte-Justine

Claudine Amiel-Tison, Pediatrician, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Cochin Port-Royal, France
Gloria Jeliu, Pediatrician, Professor, CHU Sainte-Justine
Isabelle Millette,Nurse practitioner, Neonatology and Development CHU Sainte-Justine

English Translation and Critical Revision
Danielle Buch, Medical Writer, Applied Clinical Research Unit, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre

Last Updated: 2014

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