Teaching your Little One About Baby’s Facial Expression


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Depending on the age of your first child, they may still be learning to understand and decode emotions and facial expression. If they are already verbal, they are probably very eager to communicate with their new brother or sister. While they are going to have to wait a little while to have full blown two-way conversations, both you and your child can learn to read the baby’s facial expressions to understand what they are trying to tell us without using any words.

Here are some different emotions your baby may be experience and the clues they are giving you through their facial expression:

Fascination: Zooming in on something with the eyes and lowering or raising her eyebrows; mouth slightly agape. May squeal, point, or move toward the thing she’s focused on.

Distress: Corners of the mouth turning down, both eyebrows arching up in the middle. If she’s not crying, it’s likely her chin is quivering.

Boredom: Vying for your attention by yelling, crying, or even throwing a toy. She may also smile or laugh when you react.

Anger: Red-faced crying, with eyes squinted shut. May push or bat your hand when you reach for her.

Fear: Eyes frozen open. Face and hands tremble. May be very still or cry out.

Discomfort: Intense, urgent crying with a grunting sound that sounds like “rrrr.” Scrunches face or tenses facial muscles. Squirms or brings legs up to his chest.

Joy: A big smile, with cheeks lifted up and wrinkles forming at the corners of the eyes. May wave or clap while babbling in a high pitch.

While it may be easy for you to understand these expression after reading this information, it still may seem like a foreign language to your first child. Make sure to point out facial expressions as you see them in your baby and name them. Do this consistently and with repetition. You could also take pictures of your baby with the different expressions for your child to look at. Print them out and put them on a popsicle stick to make it a mask. You could have a lot of fun role playing with your child! Having your older child learn to read facial expressions is important in helping to develop their emotional intelligence.

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