When I think about babies, I picture a rolly polly little face with a gummy smile and intoxicating coos. Being a baby seems like a carefree state of bliss that any adult would like to achieve. (Which may be why I find myself doing the "happy baby" yoga pose so often.) But just like adults, babies experience a wide range of emotions beyond happiness. There are signs your baby is sad (besides crying, because that's obvious) that may be overlooked or misinterpreted by parents. However, recognizing these feelings in your child could be the first step in helping him deal with this emotion.
From the moment your baby bursts into the world, he begins communicating how he feels through cries and other nonverbal indicators. Over time you tune into your child and learn what's normal for him, which means you'll begin to pick up on things that are out of the ordinary. As Baby Center explained, "your baby will feel sad for the same reasons that you do – loneliness, discomfort, tiredness and hunger," and doesn't always mean there is a bigger problem lurking. However, these feelings should not be pushed aside since it is possible for babies to experience depression, according to the website for ABC News. Noticing these six signs your baby is sad is your first step in finding a solution.
1. Their Mouth Is Turned Down
It may be easy to tell more about how your baby feels when she's crying by paying close attention to her mouth and body. As the website for Baby Center explained, a downturned mouth and soft body indicated feeling of sadness in a baby, just as an open mouth and stiff body would let you know she's angry.
2. They See That You're Sad
Your baby is processing everything around him and that includes emotions. According to Parents magazine, babies are aware of other people's emotions, facial expressions, and tone, and have the ability to respond accordingly. Which means if you're showing signs of sadness, your baby may respond by mirroring your facial expressions to show empathy, an ability that begins soon after birth.
3. They Aren't Eating Or Sleeping
If you have a hunch your baby has some lingering sadness, a few signs could confirm your suspicion. The website for ABC News reported that in addition to being irritable, depressed babies may have trouble eating or sleeping. Although it is rare in babies, Dr. Jess Shatkin, director of education and training at New York University's Child Study Center estimated that one in 40 infants can experience depression.
4. They Exhibit Sickness Symptoms
Since it's not as easy for babies to verbally express their emotions, sometimes their sadness can take the form of physical ailments. Frequent tummy aches, headaches, or complaints about pain may be ways your little one is telling you he's sad, as Baby Center explained.
5. Their Eyes Are Unresponsive
A baby's nonverbal cues about sadness aren't all that different from that of an adult. As the website for Smithsonian magazine reported, an unresponsive eye gaze is a common sign that babies are sad or depressed.
6. They Aren't Connecting
Playing with your baby can give you a lot of clues about how she's feeling. According to Very Well, when your baby doesn't engage with you, it could mean that she is unhappy. If it seems hard to get that connecting from your little one, it may mean she's trying to send you a message about her feelings.