Parenting Counts is a product of Talaris Institute.


Responding to Baby (0-12 Months)

What is your baby thinking?

Well, the answer is – A LOT! That’s right, from the minute your baby is born, he is taking in information from everyone and everything around him. His brain is like a supercomputer taking in every sound and every image. At 10 days old, babies can recognize their mom’s and dad’s voice and smell. They find great comfort in your loving arms. Babies are quick to pick up on other people’s emotions too. When you laugh, they laugh. When you cry, they might cry. When you are stressed, they can become frightened. It’s sometimes overwhelming, and your baby needs your help to make sense of all the information.

What are they trying to tell me?

Babies each find their own way of communicating. They might cry, rub their eyes, turn their heads, arch their backs, pull their ears, or suck on their fingers. They also make facial expressions that tell you when they are scared or happy, or interested. Your baby is working hard to communicate with you. Your job is to learn your baby’s cues. Sometimes it takes a little bit of detective work to understand what he is trying to tell you.

How do I make my baby feel safe?

Imagine being in a foreign place where you don’t know the language, and you don’t know what’s safe and what’s not. It could be very scary unless someone were there to take care of you! That’s why parenting is so important. By tuning in to your baby’s cues, you take the fear of the unknown away from your baby. You make her feel safe.

Changing diapers and feeding your baby every couple of hours are all part of the job, but how you hold her, respond to her, and talk to her makes her feel safe and secure. When you respond quickly to her cries and comfort her gently, she begins to trust that you will be there when she needs you. You are making connections and creating a bond. Your bond will be the foundation for your baby’s relationship with you and healthy relationships with others. Plus, babies who feel safe and secure cry less. That’s a nice benefit!

Who’s making those funny sounds?

Sometimes babies like to make sounds. And they are pretty proud of themselves when they do. So encourage your baby when she coos or babbles. You are helping her learn sounds and words. When the funny noises start, be sure to acknowledge the sounds in positive ways. Be enthusiastic and smile. Your baby is not only testing her voice, she is testing you! If she knows she can get your attention when she needs you, she will be more confident to try things on her own. This is part of what child development experts call “being securely attached.” Also, babies who are securely attached have the ability to calm down more quickly if they are upset. So, respond to your baby with kindness and let them know they can count on you.

Helpful parenting tips

The way you respond to your baby matters.

  • Always respond to your baby in caring ways.
  • When you respond quickly to his needs, he begins to count on you.
  • Talk with your baby and copy his sounds.
  • Use everyday moments like bathing, feeding, and diapering to connect in special ways.
  • Smile, laugh, and interact as much as possible.
  • You’re creating a secure connection, a bond with your baby.
  • A secure baby will grow up to be a more confident person.
  • Your emotions can affect your baby, they are learning from you