Learning to understand your newborn's cues is similar to learning a second language, except with a lot more pressure and exhaustion. It's normal to stress about not knowing what your baby wants or not understanding their cues. Luckily, although it isn't always intuitive or easy to understand, babies do have a language of their own that they use to communicate with us. Learning to interpret the signs that your baby is angry, hungry, tired, in pain, or any other emotion might seem like a daunting task. As time goes on, however, you'll learn about your baby's personality and their unique emotional cues will seem natural and straightforward. Most of the time, anyway.
Anger is one emotion that many parents have a hard time decoding in their babies. But, just like adults and children, babies experience every emotion on the spectrum, anger and frustration included. These signs are fairly universal symptoms of frustration and even though it might be hard to picture your newborn bundle of joy in a rage, it will most likely happen at some point. What To Expect noted that true temper tantrums don't usually start until your baby is well into their second year, but younger babies can certainly get angry.
Knowing the signs of an angry baby before the fit of anger happens can save you a lot of confusion in the long run.
1. They're On The Verge Of A New Milestone
The Parent Report noted that, like adults, babies can get frustrated before mastering a new skill. If your little one is about to roll over, crawl, walk, or hit any new milestone, you may notice a period where they get frustrated extra easily. This is totally normal and will pass once they master the skill.
2. They Cry For Non-Apparent Reasons
Every baby is different. While some are very laid back and easy to please, others are more demanding and can get emotional or frustrated more quickly. Dr. Sears noted that intense, sensitive, and unsatisfied are all words that can describe a "high needs" baby. If your baby sometimes cries for no apparent reasons (once you've ruled out hunger, pain, and sickness,) they may just get frustrated easily than you expected.
3. They Want Something They Can't Reach
Like the frustration before reaching a milestone, as your baby gets old, they'll start to notice their surroundings more and more, and with that might come added frustration that they're unable to reach certain toys, places, or people.
4. They Arch Their Back
Although arching the back can also be a sign of pain or reflux, according to Parents it can also be a sign of frustration. If you've ruled out other possibilities that your baby is in pain, or if it isn't regularly occurring (like before or after each feeding) your baby might be frustrated.
5. They're Hungry Or Overly Tired
According to an article from Focus On The Family, babies cry to express an unmet need. They use the example of a babysitter who is unable to feed a baby when the parent is running behind schedule. When mom does arrive to pick up her baby, she'll likely be met with angry cries denoting that her baby's need hasn't been met yet.
The same can happen when your baby hasn't slept enough. They'll move beyond rubbing their eyes and yawning to an over-tired "temper tantrum." Since they're unable to communicate, crying is their default to express anger or frustration.