If You Think Your Baby Doesn’t Understand, You Are Wrong

baby-expressions-flickrWe all know it takes babies about a year to start talking and then even longer to hold conversations and understand what is actually being said. Turns out that babies as young as five months old can recognize one another’s emotions; associating the sounds with the corresponding facial expressions. This is not too surprising to those of us who have children. We’ve all seen it in action. If you flash a big smile and make happy, cooing sounds the baby will respond in kind. If your tone is stern and angry, the child will react to that as well.

Ross Flum, an associate professor of psychology at Brigham Young University and co-author of the study, says that babies are very much aware of emotions and highly sensitive to our communicative intent. This means that even if your baby doesn’t understand what the words mean in what you are saying, they completely understand how you’re saying something.

“They can really understand how we’re saying something, so if you’re talking to a young infant, they might not understand exactly what you’re saying but they would certainly understand how it’s being conveyed.”

When one of my girls was small, we would spell, “b.a.t.h” because we didn’t want her to get overexcited and run streaking toward the bathroom, but soon she recognized the spelling intonations in our voice just as she did the word “bath”. Sure enough, we’d spell it and she’d be ripping her diaper off and running towards the bathtub, grabbing at the rubber duckies. The same thing happened with “b.e.d” and soon she would run away from us for a bedtime ritual of hide and seek the baby.

Children are so much smarter than we give them credit for, even when they are very little. They can recognize social cues, voice intonations, body language, and facial expressions before they can ever depend on their knowledge of the written word. Babies are amazingly observant and great listeners. Maybe more adults should take a page from the babies’ communication playbook.

What kind of communication did you use with your baby that surprised you that they could understand? 

Image via Flickr/ mbi

ADVERTISEMENT

What do you think?

If You Think Your Baby Doesn’t Understand, You Are Wrong

Deborah Cruz, @TruthfulMommy, is the creator of The TRUTH about Motherhood, an often humorous and brutally honest look at motherhood. She's a writer, a wife, and a work-at-home Mommy who's trying to do it all well. She live in the Midwest with her 2 little girls and her husband. She has a lot of degrees from a bunch of schools but mostly spends her days shuttling people under the age of 7, while trying to maintain her sanity and she wouldn't have it any other way. She talks a lot. She ... More

Tell us what you think!

3 comments

  1. Leslie says:

    We use sign language since she does not talk much. May have autism. But she is so smart. She just show me what she want for a snack. She look my hand to the fridge and point to the water bottle, hot dogs, and jelly. Hot dogs and PJ sandwich with water to drink. She Is 2 1/2.

  2. Debbie Burke says:

    Good article!

  3. EbyMom says:

    Yes the above blog is totally true. My baby whenever I carry her, she looks directly at my face. Maybe to see my facial expression. When am angry not at her I will notice cos her expression changes too. They really understand us but cannot express it verbally.

Advertisement
[x]
×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend