Although babies only begin to smile socially at 4 or 5 months, as cited by Lesley Morrow in her book Literacy Development in Early Years, many studies have shown that infants aged 1 and below can already feel and express content or discontent with primary experiences they have with their immediate environment. The following “recipe” shows you the ingredients for a happy baby.
No other element has the same effect on a child than attention. Pediatrician Charo Batac-Dizon, M.D., explains that babies most especially need attention to be happy and content. “When babies cry, there must be a reason. Every time they cry, they need something, and so parents must address these needs—feeding, diaper change, a hug or cover from the cold. In fact, babies who cry more often than most may indeed need more attention,” says Dr. Batac-Dizon.
For Vangie Sanchez, mom to Rafael, age 4, and newborn Miguel, it helps to get other members of the family involved. “Attention not only from parents, but also from grandparents and even yayas is crucial in making children happy,” says Sanchez.
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Morrow states that by age 6 months, infants already like playing (whether they’re alone or with company), and can already cooperate in games like peeka-boo and pat-a-cake. What better way to contribute to your baby’s happiness than by being her playmate? “Showing affection, bonding, and playing with your children are reassuring for them, especially at such a young age,” stresses Dr. Batac-Dizon.
Kindermusik educator Suzette Kho, mom to Russell, age 5, and Skyeler, age 3, doesn’t approve of stiff parenting. She says that parents must be child-like and must be able to “roll in the mud” with their kids. “When you get your hands dirty with your children or when you play games with them, you show them that you are interested in their activity, that you’re not corny, and that makes your baby feel happy,” says Kho.
Morrow states that infants enjoy frolicking and being jostled, and can already show affection by kissing and hugging at 6 months. Although most parents believe that consoling babies by constantly carrying them or sleeping with them causes them to grow up dependent and clingy.
Dr. Batac-Dizon opines that one can never spoil a baby with too much attention. In fact, researchers at Harvard University say that cry excessive and unnecessary in babies can cause them harm and make them overly sensitive to future trauma. Responding to their needs with touch and affection can make babies more secure and happy.
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