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How to Read Your Baby

Interest and Enjoyment

What interest looks like:

Eyebrows are slightly lowered or raised; mouth may be slightly open; face looks concentrated and engrossed.

What it means: Your baby is zeroing in on something and tracking it with his eyes. His interest in the world around him is the root of all learning behaviors, so it's important to encourage it. If your baby takes interest in an inappropriate object, like scissors, hold the object in your hand so he can still see it and explain that it's not safe instead of yelling "no". Then find an alternate toy for your tot to play with. "When you interfere with a baby's interest, you may make them feel ashamed, as if there is something wrong with their attraction to certain things," says Dr. Holinger.

What enjoyment looks like:

Baby is smiling with the lips widened up and out. She may laugh or make high-pitched sounds of happiness. Eyes brighten.

What it means: "Enjoyment is serious stuff," Dr. Holinger says in his book. "The ability to feel and express joy is essential to building a happy, healthy life." If fostered, this emotion helps your baby develop positive social connections with others. And sharing enjoyment together is one of the best ways you and your child can bond. A surefire giggle inducer: any game that builds up suspense (when you're hiding your face behind your hands during peekaboo, for example) and then releases it (when you pop out and exclaim "Peekaboo!").

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