Circle of Friends

Getting to Know Mom

Mom and Baby

Kaysh Shinn

When your baby first enters the world, all he wants is to be warm, dry, and well fed. The person who helps him meet these needs (most often Mom) quickly becomes the center of his world. What your baby learns from this first relationship is the beginning of his social understanding. "That initial interaction -- baby cries, parent responds -- builds trust," says Andrew Garner, MD, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in Cleveland. "And trust is the foundation on which the rest of all relationships begins." Your unwavering commitment has a payoff: that first real smile that can't be chalked up to drowsiness or gas. While it warms your heart and is the first hint at personality, it's an important milestone for another reason: your baby now knows that crying isn't the only way to capture your attention. He flashes a smile, which you find so irresistible that you immediately walk to his crib and answer his babbles and coos with your own. "It's the start of a conversation that becomes more and more extended," says Kathleen Kiely Gouley, PhD, a clinical child psychologist at the New York University Child Study Center. "That's the beginning of social exchange."

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