Do Babies Feel Emotions

It can be hard to tell if your baby is experiencing anything from an emotional standpoint when they are little. After all, all they seem to do is cry and stare at you rather blankly. But we know that babies cry as a way to show us what they need. So, do feelings have anything to do with it? One thing we do know for sure is the feelings of the parents. Bringing a new baby home can be exciting, overwhelming and a little daunting, especially when you have no clue as to how your little one is feeling. The truth is that navigating through your baby’s emotions is quite the task and the notion of baby emotions is a complicated one. But there’s no need to fret, there are ways to learn how to decipher your infant’s needs and emotions. And if you’d like to know how then this is the article for you. Read on to know more!

Emotional And Social Development In Infants

Sure your baby may not understand everything you’re saying to them yet, but they do smile and coo in response to certain gestures or tone of voice that you may employ and this is all thanks to neurological activities in their tiny brain. This indicates that although your little one doesn’t feel emotions like adults do, they do in fact experience them, usually as a response to external stimuli. We’re sure you’ve seen your baby smile when they see a familiar face and giggle when you play peek-a-boo with them. They can also cry and get upset because of something that you did that caused them physical discomfort or because they are hungry or have a wet diaper. Babies are prone to react to the kind of attention they receive. However, the ability to experience and express true emotions doesn’t kick in until a little later, as it is deeply rooted in both physical and emotional development. You do need to take into account that babies have not had any life experiences that require them to have emotions or strong feelings attached to them.

But that being said, your baby can sense their own emotions and yours to an extent. This may come as a surprise to you, but babies are very in tune with the feelings of their caregivers. If you’re upset or anxious, they know (1). In fact, according to research conducted by the University of Cambridge, mothers and babies brain waves tend to synchronize (2). That’s how connected they are! It was Dr. Vicky Leong, who works at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychology, who led the research study that discovered this incredible connection. In the study he explains how the neural connections between the mother and the baby are strong and how the infant is receptive to their mother. These little baby brains have the ability to change significantly which are often driven by what the baby experiences. And this is why it’s so important to use a positive emotional tone while socially interacting with your baby, even if you are talking to them while changing their diaper at 3am in the morning. Don’t forget that a parent’s ability to bond with their baby also has an impact on their emotional development and their brain’s capacity.

Understanding Your Baby’s Emotions

This may not be as tough as you think. Parents try all sorts of techniques and methods to connect with their newborn. The most popular technique nowadays is to practice attachment parenting and we can see why. According to research done by Attachment Parenting International (API), babies that are clingy and tend to cry and root often are just their ingrained technique in order to keep their caregiver nearby and paying attention to them (3). The Attachment Parenting technique goes on to explain that this behavior will begin to ease as the child grows up and starts to feel more secure in their relationship with the caregiver. This security will enable them to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world around them. Additionally, they will be able to form healthy bonds with the important people in their life.

The thing is many parents wish that their little one came with a manual, but it takes them a while to realize that their baby is the manual. Your baby is communicating to you their feelings and needs from day 1. Maybe this is in the clench of their fist to indicate that they are hungry or a cry for more cuddles because they feel anxious due to being in a new environment. Whatever it may be, all you need to do to figure out your little one’s emotions is to pay attention to them.

Emotions can be hard enough to decipher on an adult, let alone a baby that can’t talk and doesn’t make many facial expressions. It may take you a while to get the hang of figuring out your little one’s feelings but once you do, you’ll be more in tune with them than ever!

Was this article helpful?The following two tabs change content below.Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby’s development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.
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