Babies love faces

by Jacqueline Harding. Babies love faces. And, it seems that making use of your babies first 'toy' - the human face - can provide more than just entertainment.

Woman holding baby up to her nose

Introduction

The newborn baby arrives in this world as an unfinished little human being. However, by the end of the first year, they will have got to grips with all manner of issues. For example, it’s amazing how quickly they learn how to gain your attention, get their needs met, move that little body around and take their place in the world.

So, just how do they learn so much and so quickly? Do parents and grandparents really need to start filling boxes with lots of toys to keep them entertained?

Extra information

Fortunately, babies come well equipped to interact with other humans (that makes our job easier!). For a start, they are totally fascinated by the face of their mum, dad, grandparents or carers. This is the key.

It’s so tempting to think that babies need a truckload of toys to stimulate them, but the truth is that their favourite activity is looking at you. The human face could have a price tag - it’s simply the best toy a young baby could ever have!

When you think about it, the face has such potential - it moves around, the eyes blink and dart back and forth, the eyebrows rise and fall, and the mouth makes funny shapes and happy noises. It also has the additional fascination of a tongue that pops out and disappears, as if by magic. All in all, it has everything it needs to be the perfect toy.

It is just amazing that babies can see between 20 and 30cm at birth, which is just the right distance to be able to see the person holding him/her. Just think, by six months your baby will even be smiling and laughing with you. Brightly-coloured mobiles and rattles can do a great job too in capturing the young baby’s attention.

How CBeebies can help

The young baby finds out all about the world through their senses. It’s up to us parents and carers to help them learn about everything around them in a safe and secure way.

Of course, a young baby is too young to watch TV (even CBeebies!) but the happy musical sounds that come from CBeebies Radio will add to the richness of sounds around them. Singing and humming to your baby whilst rocking them in your arms can have a remarkable calming effect (on you as well as your baby).

Music does wonders for the developing brain, and it can help soothe them when they are feeling a bit off colour or finding it difficult to settle themselves to sleep.

How to make a magic moment

A wonderful magical moment may occur for both of you, as soon as you witness your baby copying you. It never fails to delight. Why not try poking your tongue out (a couple of times) and then wait - you might just see your baby copy your actions. Fascinating!

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Top tips

  • Have a go at puffing your cheeks out and watch how your baby reacts.Try moving a colourful object from side to side. Watch how your baby will begin to follow it as the weeks go by.Show your baby a black and white picture and watch the reaction. Babies can see black and white pictures better.Around the time your baby is two months, try moving your face quite near to him/her and then slowly move your head from side to side. Baby will look directly into your eyes and follow your eyes from side to side.

Expert opinion

We are shaped by other people, as well as what we breathe and eat.

Sue Gerhardt, Psychoanalytic psychotherapist and author

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