The Social Life of Babies
Your baby knows how you feel.
Long before they're old enough to experience true friendship, babies can show rudimentary signs of empathy. Many will start to cry the second they hear another baby crying, for instance. Maribelle Lewis of Avenel, New Jersey, was startled the first time she heard her daughter Aiyannah crying in response to her baby cousin's tears. "At first I thought that maybe she cried when he cried in order to get attention. He had some health issues, so my mom, who cares for them during the day, responded to his cries quicker than to Aiyannah's. But then Aiyannah did the same thing at a mall, crying in response to a total stranger's baby's cries, so I think she's somehow communicating or sympathizing with the other babies," says Lewis.
All the world's a playmate -- at first.
Except for very reserved infants, most babies welcome interaction with just about anybody: the meter reader, the mailman, the slobbery puppy in the yard next door. "My wife and I are always surprised when we're out in public and, before we know it, our son, Abraham, is smiling at a total stranger, who's of course smiling right back," says Nashville dad Jonathan Marx. "Sometimes we wonder why he's so extroverted, since neither of us is that outgoing."
It can be puzzling, even a little disappointing, to see your baby flashing the same overjoyed smile at a stranger that she usually gives you, but this is just part of the fascination babies have with faces. To them, all faces are interesting, smiling ones most of all -- and who doesn't smile at a baby?