Home > Health & Wellness > Health Library > Emotional and Social Growth in Newborns
Your newborn immediately starts to communicate with you. Newborns
need and, in their own way, ask for social interaction with others. They
communicate by moving their arms and legs and directing their gaze toward a
familiar voice. Their eyes and face brighten as they track parents' movements
and scan their faces. When they break their gaze, it signals the need for a
rest from the interaction.
Of course, they also cry. A cry can communicate that a baby is
hungry, lonely, bored, uncomfortable, or simply overwhelmed. You will soon
learn to distinguish your baby's different types of crying, sometimes even
within the first few days after delivery.
A newborn's smile most often occurs during sleep. Smiles while awake
are reflexive reactions to a face or voice rather than an emotional response.
But during the second month, your baby's smiles are a genuine sign of
pleasure or friendliness.
Each baby is born with a unique disposition, or
temperament, which is generally categorized as quiet,
sensitive, demanding, or easily distracted. Temperament often determines a
newborn's emotional reactions, ability to focus versus ease of being
distracted, ability to adapt to changing situations, and activity level (quiet
versus busy). For example, some newborns are hypersensitive to stimuli and are
easily overloaded. These babies may overreact to playful rocking, while other
less sensitive babies might respond with brightened face and interest.
Recognize how your own personality and temperament influence your
reactions to your baby. If you are an active person and have a quiet baby, you
may need to adjust your expectations and how you interact.
January 10, 2013
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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