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Your Brilliant Baby in Week 2: Copying Mouth Movements

Baby’s Brain in Week 2

While you’re still settling into life with your newborn, take time to notice a skill he’s been able to display since he was less than 72 hours old: When you stick your tongue out at him, he sticks his right back at you. (Take that, Mom!)

Did he do so by accident? Nope—your baby is just more skilled than you may have given him credit for!

What the Research Shows

Researcher Dr. Andrew Meltzoff, PhD, discovered this ability when visiting newborns in hospital nurseries. Even at this super-young age, your baby knows that he’s like you. While he can’t see himself, he perceives himself as being similar to you. So he’s compelled to do as you do.

Now, if you snapped your fingers, your child couldn’t copy this behavior—his motor and thinking skills just aren’t there yet. But because your infant has a strong tongue able to suck milk from a nipple, he’s able to use it skillfully to thrust it out of his mouth on cue. He can also copy lip pursing and mouth opening.

The point to note is this: Babies are avid learners, programmed to learn in their first and most important environment—home. They do so most efficiently by watching you. That means that as your baby grows and develops, you’ll need to consider your own actions. Children are indiscriminate: They don’t simply copy appropriate behaviors (such as using a tissue to clean the nose) but they mimic inappropriate behaviors (nose picking!) as well.

Week 2 Brain Booster

Try it out: When your baby is not drowsy, hungry, or active, but instead quiet and awake, come eight to 10 inches from his face and stick out your tongue. Keep it there. Wait. Stay right there and calmly wait—it’ll happen.

Later, somewhere between four and six months, Baby will make “raspberries” by pursing his lips and blowing. And down the developmental road a bit, he’ll copy other small behaviors (pushing buttons on the remote control, computer, and dishwasher) that you might overlook—and wish he would!

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