You are baby's first teacher of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another's situation and to respond with care. From a very early age, your baby learns kindness and compassion from the way that you respond to their needs. Describing and responding to your baby's feelings and emotions is the first step in teaching this very important lifelong skill to your baby. That will set the stage for baby to learn to be compassionate and kind towards others. 


Eventually, you can start to talk to your baby about how behaviors are connected to emotions (e.g., "Your brother was so happy that you gave him a hug.") 


Brain Science for Your Baby


Behavior is in the brain! Humans are "wired" to care about other people's feelings. There are "mirror neurons" in the brain that allow the brain to relate other people's experiences to our own. By age 2, toddlers can respond to another's distress with a variety of helping behaviors.  


Research says empathy depends on both "within-child factors" like personality and "socialization factors" which includes imitation and the parent-child relationship. Responding to your baby's emotions and needs during the first 2 years leads to the development of child conscience, including empathy.      

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby
Recognize and describe your baby's emotions as much as possible.
Describe the emotions of others. This can occur when you are looking at books or referring to a sibling or other family member. 
Model empathy. Bring your child along when you do a good deed for someone or show compassion for another person.

A baby Buffer Prescription for You   


Talk to your doctor about a healthy diet, sleep and exercise program for you. When you take care of yourself, you are best able to take care of your baby!


Talk to your doctor or a friend about how to adjust to the change of parenting a new baby to enable you to positively talk to your baby with your words and actions every day.



What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Emotionally, one-year-olds are just learning to recognize and manage their feelings. They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated. They may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming, or crying. One-year-olds want their independence, and may say, "No!" to adult suggestions or insist that they, "Do it!" Then, moments later, they might cling to an adult's leg or ask for help.

Gene's Research Tip


What changes the brain? Could reading to your child help brain development?

Well, a study published in the journal Brain Connectivity, looked at brain activity with functional MRI scans for 19 consecutive days, in adults who read a novel in the first 10 days of the study. The brain areas affected during and after finishing the book were compared. 


Results showed that certain areas of the brain that were activated while reading the book, continued to be active for at least several days later, as if the information absorbed had an impact on brain functioning! Read more here

Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Jessica Oeth Schuttler, Ph.D. 
I am so excited to be a "guest" of Baby Buffer and share in all the great things this group is doing!


I recently had a dear friend of mine ask for my mom-psychologist opinion about some gift ideas for his sweet niece for her first Christmas. He had some great ideas - starting a savings account and some cute yet practical clothes. He asked what I thought about books as a gift for a wee one (9 month old) who wasn't yet reading. Here was my response:


I am A HUGE PROPONENT OF BOOKS as a gift at any age as both mom and psychologist. Right now, your little one could totally love looking at a board book or soft book (one with cloth or squishy pages), and a bonus is that they would be safe to go in her mouth (which lots of things do at that age). 

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