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Cited in Livestrong.com – What a Baby Thinks

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What a Baby Thinks

By Shannon Philpott

In this informative article, the author polled experts on what is going through your baby’s mind, what a baby thinks, and how to optimize bonding and their development. To connect with your baby, parents know it is all about following your baby’s nonverbal cues. Not only is this how we connect with our babies, but it turns out that babies learn best through this nonverbal attunement with caregivers.  Aim to keep interaction natural and engaged, following your baby’s lead on what level of stimulation is optimal, that is, your baby stays engaged without turning away or getting upset (signs of overstimulation).

 

Experience Prompts Learning

Babies learn by experience, says Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. “Not being verbal, or having the mental capacities early on for language meaning, babies learn using their primary senses and take everything in,” she says. If you’ve ever wondered why your baby focuses her attention on noise, interactions and bright colors, it’s because he is soaking up knowledge and learning. According to Clark, the best thing new parents can do to enhance the thoughts of their baby is to keep him stimulated to the point where he stays interested without being overwhelmed or bored.

Following Baby’s Lead

The best way to help your baby learn is to follow his lead, says Washington, D.C.-based psychologist Alicia Clark. “Before they can grab things, they love gazing at the world around them and often appear to be studying the world,” says Clark. Take note of where your baby’s gaze wanders and interact with him, make faces and prompt his thinking by talking about the object he has focused on at the moment. “Interacting with your child is fun and it is also one of the best things you can do to help him learn,” says Clark.

Bright Lights and Colors

At six weeks, a baby’s sight is well formed though not perfect, and babies have strong inborn preferences for intensity and contrast, says Alicia Clark, licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. “This means babies like strong color and contrast of light and benefit from visual stimulation,” she says. Help your baby’s mind expand by showing her brightly colored objects and images. Since babies react to facial expressions and soft sounds by familiar voices, interact with your child while exploring bright lights and intense colors.

Emotionally Charged Feedings

Since a baby’s learning relies heavily on senses, babies are extremely sensitive, especially to internal experiences of hunger and digestion, says Alicia Clark, licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. “Responding to a baby’s need for food and digestion help aren’t just meeting a child’s basic needs, but it is teaching a child what it feels like to be taken care of emotionally,” she says. Many times, feedings offer parents an opportunity to nurture and bond with baby. Fortunately, these special moments are also helping your child develop his emotions, too.

Facial Recognition

If your baby responds by smiling or staring when you are face-to-face, it’s likely he is processing and learning with these interactions. According to The Urban Child Institute, newborns can recognize human faces and can differentiate between happy and sad expressions right away. In fact, your baby cannot get too much face-to-face interaction, says Alicia Clark, Washington, D.C.-based psychologist. “Interacting with faces forms the beginning of social development and the child learning about the connections in the world,” she says. Snuggling up face-to-face not only helps provoke your child’s thoughts, but it can also enhance the bond between the two of you.

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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