Parenting Counts is a product of Talaris Institute.



The world’s best copycats.

Babies are born learning from you. Even at birth, infants can watch what you do and copy it. When you smile, babies try to smile too, if you stick your tongue out at a newborn, the baby will stick out his tongue too. By watching what you do and copying it, babies learn from you every day.

Before they can talk, babies may hold toy telephones to their ears just like mom or dad. If your 1-year-old child sees you pick up a hammer to fix the kitchen table, don’t be surprised when your child later grabs the hammer and makes a few dents in your furniture.

Researchers have found that 1-year-old children can remember and copy what they see up to four weeks later, even if they haven’t had a chance to practice in the meantime. Children are amazing learners with very powerful memories.

Children learn from everyone.

Every person your baby sees might be teaching her something. Babies copy their parents and caregivers the most, but they can copy anybody they see. Young children learn by watching and copying family members, babysitters, neighbors, and even strangers. Everyone can help a child learn by setting good examples.

What about TV?

Children also learn what people do by watching television. Most American children, less than two years old, see about two hours of television every day. It’s easy to use television as a babysitter and to learn the television on during dinnertime and other home activities. But will babies and young children copy what they see on television?

They can!

Research shows that even 14-month-old children will copy some of the things they see on television. And the older they get, they more things children will remember and copy. Young children are quick learners, and that makes it important to be careful about what children are watching.

Helpful parenting tips

Our children are watching and learning from us in everything we do. They watch how we talk, how we use things, what we eat, how we react to situations, and how we treat others.

  • Babies are active learners from the start! Think of your home as your child’s first classroom, and everybody in your home as your child’s first teachers.
  • Remember that babies watch and might copy the things we do right from birth. Try to provide positive examples early on.
  • Be careful about what your child sees on television. Remember that babies don’t know what’s safe to do and what’s dangerous. They might copy something they’ve seen on television days or weeks after watching it.