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Baby Behavior

Babies have limited ways of communicating with their caregivers when they are hungry, tired or need something to be different. Understanding baby behaviors can help parents better respond to their baby.

Baby Behavior Tips

Babies may cry or appear fussy to communicate with their caregivers. Below is some basic baby behavior information to help you better understand your infant. Have questions? Remember WIC is here for you! Please reach out to your local WIC clinic with any questions you have.

Hunger Cues: "I am Hungry"

Babies who are hungry may:

  • Keep hands near their face
  • Bend their legs and arms
  • Smacks or pucker their lips
  • Search or "root" for the nipple or breast

Hunger Cues- "I am Full"

Babies who are full may:

  • Nurse slower or stop sucking
  • Relax their hands and arms
  • Turn away from the nipple
  • Push away from breast
  • Fall asleep 

Cues-"I Want to be Near You"

Babies who want to be near your may:

  • Have a relaxed face and body
  • Follows you voice and face as you move
  • Reach toward you
  • Stare at your face
  • Raise their head toward you

Cues- "I Need Something to be Different"

Babies who want something to be different may:

  • Look or turn away from what is bothering them, or arch their back
  • Frown or have a glazed look in their eyes
  • Stiffen their hands, arms or legs
  • Yawn or fall asleep

Sleep- "Light Sleep"

Babies fall into "Light Sleep" first when they doze off.  Babies in Light Sleep may:

  • Move around and make noises
  • Their eyes may twitch or open and close eyes quickly
  • Breathe fast and slow
  • Dream
  • Wake up easily

Sleep- "Deep Sleep"

Babies fall into "Deep Sleep" as part of healthy sleeping habits.  Babies in Deep Sleep may:

  • Not move very much while sleeping
  • Have relaxed, floppy arms and legs
  • Have regular, steady breathing
  • Makes sucking movements
  • Do not wake easily when picked up, etc.

Crying- "I am Trying to Tell You Something"

Sometimes, babies may cry because they are trying to tell us something.  Some reasons babies may cry or be fussy are:

  • Baby needs a diaper change
  • Baby is too hot or too cold
  • Baby is overwhelmed
  • Baby is tired
  • Baby is hungry
  • Baby is uncomfortable


Crying- "Comforting Your Baby"

There may be times when you have tried everything and baby still cries.  When this happens you can try these suggestions.  *Remember calming your baby takes time. Stick with the same action for several minutes before trying something different.

  • Speaking or singing softly to baby
  • Gently rocking, swaying or bouncing your baby
  • Gently massage baby's back, arms and legs
  • Call your doctor if you think your baby is crying too much