What Little Ones Love

There are many things in life that make kids happy, but what do they truly love, and why? Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby Magazine, explains.

Chances are, if your infant son or daughter is staring at something for quite some time, they find it fascinating. One thing that prompts a happy response are bright, bold colors. "Babies don't see in color until they're four months old," says Kelly. Newborns only see in black and white, but around four months, babies can see red and green. These colors are new to them, so they attract their attention quite easily. "They'll get the most stimulation from those bright, bold colors or black and white," Kelly adds.

Hiding games can also interest small children. Peek-a-boo is usually a big hit around 8-9 months. "Before that, they think that if they don't see you, you're not there," says Kelly. If your child begins squealing and trying to find you behind your hands or under a blanket, they've grasped a concept called object permanence; this means, even though your child can't see you, they know you're still there.

Babies are also amazed by reflections and mirrors. Small children can't grasp the concept that they are staring at themselves. At first, they think it's another child. "Babies love faces," says Kelly, so they smile at the site of another child. Around 18 months old, however, baby begins to realize that he is looking at himself.

Just like babies like faces, they love to look at other children. "Babies respond to the same cuteness cues as we do," says Kelly. "They love big eyes, broad foreheads... a head that's out of proportion to the body." These are all qualities that small children have. Other children also have high pitched voices, which Kelly says babies love. There's also a lot of excitement around other children, which can stimulate babies as well.

Babies also love things with buttons. "They're testing cause and effect," says Kelly. So if your child keeps pressing buttons on the remote control, your cell phone or on an elevator, that's because they want to see what happens. They know that pressing those buttons may turn on the TV or cause your phone to ring, and that's exciting to them. Throw in the fact that you keep pestering them to give the object back to you, and they think it's a ton of fun.

Finally, babies love animals. "Adults love animals, so they pick up on our enthusiasm," says Kelly. Keep in mind, however, that if you're afraid of a certain animal, your child may learn to be afraid of it too. Do your best to put your fears aside and introduce your children to new animals like a neighbor's friendly dog or cat. "Animals are more interesting than toys because they do surprising, unpredictable things," says Kelly.

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By Erin Petrun