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Babies Have People Skills, Too

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Info for Parent - Parent


Provides information on infant social development.


All Ages

Age Groups

Infancy (<1)

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Babies Have People Skills, Too (Adapted from MCHB)

Babies Have People Skills, Too (Adapted from MCHB)

From the start, your baby is interested in your face. She notices your expressions and tone of voice. She reacts to your emotions. For example, when you say something in a soft and loving way, she will relax and feel more secure.

Scientists have learned that babies show emotions as early as when they are one month old. Something else scientists have learned is that feeling good helps babies learn better.

Why? Happy babies are more alert, attentive and responsive. Babies remember things better when they are happy and at ease. The way you hold and talk to your baby can help her feel happy.

Babies who are alert and feeling good are more likely to look at things, explore and play. They will pay attention more. For example, they will try to make new things happen with toys or make sounds with people. This helps them learn and remember new things.

Sometimes your child will feel upset and unhappy. This will not harm your child. Short periods of negative emotions can be helpful for. You should do something quickly to help her feel better. From this she will learn you care about what she tries to tell you. Some babies are more difficult for even the most experienced parents to comfort. Sometimes even an easy baby will not respond to attempts to comfort him. These colicky periods will frustrate and upset you. When you feel exhausted and frustrated it is time to pass the baby to someone else.

In the first month, the negative emotion that occurs is distress or a response to pain. Later, she will show sadness and anger. Next comes fear. All people have these emotions to protect themselves. Help your baby be at ease with having emotions. Respond to her emotions in a warm and loving way.

You can tell what your baby is feeling by changes in her facial expression. You can also see what she is feeling by her posture, movements and the sounds she makes.

Adapted from Maternal and Child Health Bureau (2002). Healthy Start, Grow Smart: Your Newborn.

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