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Engaging cues

These say “I want to interact” or “I’m interested”

Shown by baby as:

  • Smiling.
  • Looking at caregivers face.
  • Smooth movements of arms and legs (usually to the caregiver).
  • Eyes wide, bright and focused.
  • Bright face.

Disengaging cues

These say “I need a break” or “I’ve had enough”

Shown by baby as:

  • A sad face
  • Lower lip quivers
  • Frown
  • Fussiness (low pitched vocalisation- not rhythmical)
  • Pushing away hands
  • Pulling body away creating a distance from caregiver or object
  • Dull looking eyes and face
  • Fast breathing
  • Hand behind head & hand to ear
  • Hiccoughs
  • Looking away from caregiver or object

Hunger cues

These say “I’m hungry, can I have some food please”

Shown by baby as:

  • Clenched fingers and fists over chest and tummy.
  • Bending arms and legs up.
  • Mouthing.
  • Rooting.


Satiation cues

These say “I’m full” or “I’ve had enough food or drink”

Shown by baby as:

  • Extended arms and legs.
  • Arms straightened along sides.
  • Finger(s) straight.
  • Breast FeedPushing away the object.


Each baby is different so try to work out what works best for your baby. Here are some methods to try to help soothe your baby:

  • Use one action at a time and repeat over and over.
  • If what you have tried is not working try another soothing action and repeat over and over.
  • Show your baby your face.
  • Gently hold both of baby’s arms close to his or her body.
  • Rock, walk, or take baby for a ride in pram or car.
  • Talk to baby in a steady, soft voice.
  • Pick up and hold baby close.
  • “Windy” babies may be more comfortable in a more upright position
  • Sing, hum or croon to your baby.
  • Wrap baby snugly.
  • Stroke one area of the baby’s body such as head, foot or back (don’t do it too lightly but also don’t press too hard).

Babies can calm down by themselves by

  • Sucking on their fingers, fist or tongue,
  • Bringing hands to mouth.
  • Changing position of lying.
  • Looking and listening to faces or noises.
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