Interaction is important for the baby. A baby tries actively to have eye contact and is a very sharp and smart observer. In addition to facial expressions and reactions, the tone of voice and the parent’s movements are meaningful signals for the baby as they express the parent’s moods and emotions. Being looked at, touched and spoken to by his or her parents is important for the baby. The baby responds by looks, gestures and facial expressions. The baby pictures him- or herself by the look in his or her parents’ eyes.
- A baby invites the other party to interact by, for instance, crying, opening his or her eyes, a look, facial expressions and movement. Closeness to a parent is vitally important for the baby.
- A baby does not understand the concept of time, for instance, a caregiver coming “soon” or responding on one occasion to the baby’s needs and ignoring them at another.
- A baby needs consistency in the way his or her communication and signals are responded to. Inconsistency shapes a child’s attachment and bonding model away from the safe and secure which in turn has long-term effects on the child’s life.
- A baby shall never be left alone but has to be kept always close to his or her parents.
- Mobile phones interrupt the interaction between a baby and his or her parents.
Mutual smiles are important when evaluating the progress of a baby’s interaction skills. A baby takes pleasure in his or her parent’s smiles, loving touches and words and therefore makes an effort to smile in turn. The first alternate smiles start to appear already at around six weeks and at the latest by three months.
Baby’s signals and how to respond
- During the very first weeks a newborn expresses him- or herself by crying. This is the baby’s way of telling whether he or she is hungry, thirsty, has a wet nappy or feels uncomfortable.
- With practice, the interpretation of the baby’s signals starts slowly to unravel and become easier. When a baby gains experience of being understood, he or she becomes more confident about his or her needs being responded to.
- Often mere picking up and familiar heartbeat comforts the baby.
- Accuracy and speed when responding to the baby’s needs are important for his or her wellbeing.