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Respond to your baby's cues

Your baby is unique and has their own personality. From an early age, you'll be able to start identifying your baby's cues (signs) when they're:

  • tired
  • hungry
  • too hot or cold
  • uncomfortable
  • in need of a nappy change

What you might notice

You know your baby best. As you spend time with them, you'll learn what they need and how to comfort them. For example, when your baby is tired or needs a break you might notice they:

  • look unsettled
  • yawn
  • shut their eyes
  • cry

Signs your baby is hungry are called early feeding cues. They include:

  • eyes fluttering
  • moving their hands to their mouth
  • making mouth movements
  • moving towards your breast or turning their head when you touch their cheek

Crying is a late sign of hunger or late feeding cue. Try feeding when your baby gives you the earlier signs. It will often be easier as you will both be calmer and more relaxed.


Crying is the main way babies and young children tell you they're distressed or that they need you. You may get to know what the different cries mean, but often you'll have to guess. Sometimes you'll know how to soothe your child, and sometimes you'll need to try something different. Figuring out how to soothe your baby is the start of helping them to manage their feelings when they're older.

Related topic

Why is my baby crying?

Learning from your baby's cues

Try to respect your baby's unique needs and preferences. No two children are the same. For example:

  • in their need for sleep
  • how they can be soothed
  • the way they respond to hunger, discomfort, heat, cold and being handled by you

If your baby gets easily overwhelmed by bright lights and loud sounds, you may need to carefully plan a trip to the shop. Or your baby may need your voice as reassurance when they hear a loud noise.As they grow older, you'll get to know what your baby enjoys. Some babies love rocking motion or soft music, or being outside on a calm day.

Try to respect what your baby prefers and needs. You may need to help your child cope and adapt to things that unsettle them, such as loud noises, bright lights or going into a new environment. They may need to hear your voice for reassurance.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021