The Social Life of Babies
Your baby literally can't take her eyes off you.
Her bond with you develops long before she can communicate it. One-day-olds can readily distinguish between a photo of their mother and one of a stranger by noting differences in hairline, research shows. So it's not surprising that the face your baby's most intensely interested in looking at is yours.
When my son Sam was about 2 months old, he began to spend hours studying me every day. No one else in my life, not even my husband, had ever gazed into my eyes so completely adoringly. Tired as I was, bleary-eyed and smelling of sour milk, that doting gaze made me feel like the queen of the universe. Many moms say they didn't fall completely in love with their own babies until this lovely stage of staring into each other's eyes. It's a self-fulfilling cycle: Your baby's "rewarding" you socially, which encourages you to offer even more interaction, which makes her even more eager to socialize.
Being goofy can enhance your baby's social skills.
Peekaboo, for instance, helps your baby cope with separation anxiety by teaching her that when Mom "disappears" (behind her hands or behind a sofa cushion), she always comes right back. Other fun ways that your baby's learning:
* Tickling. Alisha Thomas of Marietta, Georgia, says her daughter, Lauren, "learned what sound a bumblebee makes because we like to take our fingers and make a buzzing sound and then say 'sting' in a high-pitched voice as we touch her to make her giggle." But she's also learning more than that from such tickling games, says Karen Singer-Freeman, associate professor of psychology at Purchase College, SUNY, in Purchase, New York. She's getting an early lesson in how humor works, and how to distinguish between serious human interactions and playful ones.
* Nonsense dialogue. How often do you find yourself reacting to baby babble, responding to a happy coo with a "You're very welcome, sweetie!" or to a disgruntled "Ack!" with a sympathetic "Oh, I know it's a pain to have your diaper changed"? This pattern -- you talk and I respond, then I talk and you respond -- is the foundation of all dialogue. By treating your baby's "goo's" and "ga-ga's" as if they were speech, you're actually teaching her the rules of polite conversation.