- Posted January 29, 2013 by
Analyzing Babies' Expressions
Researchers at the University of Miami's Early Play and Development Lab are analyzing babies' expressions in an effort to help children at risk for developmental and emotional problems.
They are studying how moms, dads, and babies respond to each other and how these interactions with their primary caregivers help infants develop and learn early social rules.
When they smile, coo, and laugh with each other, parents and babies tend to put a lot of emotional energy into these interactions. Their eyes meet, their breathing and heart rate align, and the baby feels a sense of security.
It's by smiling at the same time as their mothers, the baby responding to the mother and the mother responding to the baby that they develop a sense of shared emotional connection and bonding happens. These are the ingredients of healthy attachment and healthy relationships throughout life.
Facial movements of both the baby and the mom or dad are tracked by computer, recording moment-to-moment changes, how mom is expressing smiles and joy, how she is engaging with the infant, and how the infant is responding to the mom.
One of the things we found is that when a baby looks away from the parent, it just means they need a break and are attempting to regulate that stimulation, it doesn’t mean they are less interested in the parent.
A parent who doesn't allow the child to take a break and attempts to engage the child in eye contact even when the baby is attempting to look away can cause the baby to be over stimulated and stressed.
Better parent education and preparation for new parents because there is increasing evidence that early intervention works with children at risk for developmental and emotional problems.
Sensitive and responsive interaction with babies is what builds healthy attachment and emotional competence.