Did you know your baby will start understanding emotions as early as 3 months old? It’s true! At this age, his receptive language skills, or the skills necessary to understand language, is developing. He’s also developing his self-concept, which is the idea that a person is separate from others and has their own thoughts and feelings.1
The combination of these skills will lead him to understanding emotions better. The more he understands his own emotions, the better he will understand yours from your tone and facial expressions.1 This means he will be able to tell when you are excited, calm, happy or upset!
How can I help my 3- to 6-month-old baby understand emotions?
- Say his name often in conversations with him. Helping him identify his name and “personalizing” his experiences will help him develop his self-concept, which in turn, will help him understand that he has separate emotions from others.
- Exaggerate your expressions and tones to show your emotions. Along with this, make sure to describe your feelings so that he can understand how you sound when feeling those different emotions.
- Name his emotions when they happen. For example, if he’s happy to have a toy, say “I can tell that toy makes you happy!” If he is scared, say “I see that sound scared you. Are you okay?”
1 Hamilton, J. (2010). Infants Recognize Voices, Emotions by 7 Months. National Public Radio. Retrieved December 13, 2013 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125123354.