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How to Read Your Baby

Shame and Disgust

What shame looks like:

Eyelids are lowered; muscles in face become slack; head hangs down. Some babies blush.

What it means: Shame is one of the most complex infant emotions. Babies express it when they get the sense that something they are enjoying is "bad" or "wrong." Your child may be fascinated by spilling milk on the floor, for example. Because the splashes and sounds it makes are so interesting to him, he expects that the grown-ups around him will be equally fascinated. When a parent doesn't share his glee, he feels ashamed. Try to set limits and teach manners without stifling your baby's interests, says Dr. Holinger. Let him know that the milk makes a mess, but give him plenty of tub toys to practice pouring and spilling with at his next bath instead. If felt too often, shame can lead to feelings of inferiority, says Dr. Holinger.

What disgust and dissmell look like:

For disgust, lips and tongue protrude. For dissmell, the upper lip and nose raise.

What they mean: Protective reactions against noxious flavors and smells, these signs generally mean your baby doesn't like something she is eating. Don't force her; you can try the offending food again a few days later.

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