Your baby is a people person right from the start. Even in the first few weeks of life, infants prefer the sight of a human face over that of any other object. And by the time they begin flashing those melt-your-heart smiles (usually when they're around 2 months old), they're ready, willing, and eager to meet other people. "Babies are hardwired to be social creatures," says Alison Steier, PhD, clinical director of the Arizona Institute for Early Childhood Development, in Phoenix.
And they're constantly observing and learning from people, even if we're not aware of it. In a recent study, Yale University researchers had babies 6 to 10 months old watch a puppet show in which some of the characters were helpful and others were uncooperative. Afterward, they observed that the babies happily babbled at the nice puppets and expressed a clear dislike for the nasty ones. These results showed that babies possess a level of social savvy usually associated with much older kids. That's great news for parents, because it means there's plenty you can do -- right now -- to teach your baby to be the life of the party.