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How to read child sign language

From the moment they’re born, your child has a lot to say. Whether they’re rubbing their eyes when they’re tired to reaching their arms up when they want a cuddle, they’ve got ways to tell you how they’re feeling. Here are some child sign language cues to look out for.

2 mins
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By Danial Ahmad ,
Oct 20, 2020
  • Ask yourself if child is tired. Look out for a slow build-up of grunt-like cries and rubbing eyes.
  • Work out if they’re in pain. Often signaled with a sudden high-pitched shriek followed by a big breath and another shriek.
  • Find out if it’s colic. Watch out for regular shrieking in the late afternoon or evening for up to a few hours. Their face may become flushed, scrunched up, and they may clench their fists, draw their knees up to their tummy, or arch their back.
  • Could your little one be angry? Look out for loud crying while going red in the face.
  • Remember they might feel ignored. Yelling and shouting could be a hint.
  • Watch out for signs of fear. Your child may freeze on the spot.
  • Remember they’re learning to talk. Regular babbling means they probably just want a chin wag.
  • See if they want something. Once they learn to point, they may get good at giving instructions.
  • Find out if they just want a cuddle. Your little one will soon start to raise her arms to let you know.
  • See if they want to play. Hiding their face behind their hands could be a good time for peekaboo.
  • Look out for signs your child is content—an angelic little face smiling back at you!
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