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Social Studies

Human beings are social creatures  -- and that includes babies. And while it will be years before your child's calendar is filled with playdates, and even longer before the term "sharing" holds any meaning, your baby is busy laying the groundwork for all of his future social interactions. Think of this as the caterpillar stage of your social-butterfly-to-be.

Making friends isn't number one on a newborn's agenda, of course. Right now, babies are focused on getting their needs met. But part of making sure that they are fed and kept warm is establishing a rapport with the people who care for them. Every time your baby's cry for a clean diaper or a snuggle is met with the hoped-for response, he learns that he can trust you to interpret his communication.

Crying, cooing, and flailing about are all ways that babies try to get a response. Later, your baby will use these tools to try to strike up interactions with others.

Gary Levy, Ph.D., is an associate professor of developmental psychology and research director of the University of Wyoming's Infant Development Center.

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