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How Incredibly Interactive Babies Are from the Very Beginning of Life

Dr. Beatrice Beebe has done tremendously important research, brilliantly using videotaping technology to break down the sequence of micro-interactions that go on between mother and infant and detect the mutual influence of each participant on the other.

Infants as young as three months old communicate in non-verbal ways with their caretakers. The coordinated non-verbal interactions between young babies and   caretakers occur too fast for the naked eye to truly be able to see what is happening. Slowing the video to one second by one second shots allows us to see the choreography of the interactions. In the slowed down shot-by-shot replay, one can clearly see the mother-infant correspondence, and the way in which facial expressions of emotion, body movements, the direction of the gaze, or the orientation of the head towards or away from each other change. This fast, non-verbal communication occurs outside conscious awareness, and has profound influence on the development of the infant brain, cognitive and emotional capacities later in life.

When caretakers are available to interact with the baby, when they have the time and the patience and are not preoccupied by other worries, by symptoms of depression or post-traumatic reactions, the interaction facilitates positive development that will have an impact on the entire life of the child. When caretakers do not have the capacity to interact positively with the infant in those precious early months of life, when they are not physically or emotionally available, or too tired, preoccupied or upset, the impact of such deficits will be profoundly negative and will be difficult to reverse in later years. Watch snippets from Dr. Beebee’s videotaped mother-infant interactions, available at this link to recognize the richness of mother-infant non-verbal communication.

                  Irit Felsen


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