Baby Buddy Movie – Developing Social Intelligence

As the little guys in this brief video demonstrate, there is nothing more intriguing to babies than other babies. Infants learn a great deal from each other, especially when allowed to engage spontaneously — to play and socialize their way.  Yet free play between infants is routinely discouraged and interrupted because it doesn’t look “nice” or “polite” to an adult’s eye. If we could enter our baby’s world, however, those judgments would likely disappear.

Watch these babies observe and imitate each another, engaging momentarily and then separating again. See how, at the end of the video, the boy seems to be trying to hold his new friends attention, get the party started.  Note how unconcerned these children are when they don’t get the play object they seem to want, even when it is taken from their hands. Left to their own devices, they usually amaze us by working things out better than we ever could.

This is the way babies choose to play together, and when we allow them this freedom, they are thoroughly entertained, enriched, stimulated and inspired by each other’s company.

Social “baby steps” like these are made possible by…

Safe, enclosed play spaces and safe, simple, lightweight toys so that the babies can explore freely and the adults are able to relax, observe and enjoy them rather than worry or interrupt because of safety issues.

The close observation of a nearby adult, who intervenes only when necessary, provides boundaries for physical safety between the children and lends emotional support.

Parents and caregivers who support and cultivate the joyful habit of self-directed play by providing plenty of opportunity for play each day. 

A familiar environment with consistent expectations

The emotional security we provide by giving undivided, one-on-one attention during care-giving activities, i.e., feeding, diapering, bathing, and bedtime rituals

Parents and caregivers who trust infants to be social self-learners

Note: Since the initial interactions between these boys (captured in the video), they continue to be drawn to each other in class every week. I’m looking forward to sharing a Baby Buddy Movie sequel soon!

Please share your impressions…

14 Comments

Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. It fascinates me the way babies can be drawn to another baby this way. Working in long day care I often see this happening and it’s a delight to these connections between children begin and build.

  2. This is great. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    I attend a ‘normal’ playgroup with my 8 1/2 month old daughter. She is one of the oldest there, all her little friends being 4-6 months old. She sits up and has started to move about a bit whilst they mostly still lie on their backs. She seems to be quite sociable, going up to them and touching them.

    I don’t interfere with this. However, her fingernails are sharp. She often scratches her daddy and me so I have to watch out whenever she touches other babies. I don’t like having to do it but don’t want her to hurt them. (I cut her nails but they’re still sharp 🙁 )

    Also, all other parents are in the ‘interfering’ league: looking anxiously on whenever there’s contact, taking toys away whenever their baby has ‘snatched’ it from another… I don’t know how to act around them apart from doing my thing: not interfering and letting them sort it out which is difficult as it is mostly one-sided = fruitless.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am already the hippy/weirdo amongst them (at least that’s how I feel whenever I open my mouth = cloth nappies, still breastfeeding, BLW etcetc ;p). 🙂

    Nev

    1. Hi Nev! I doubt they see you as a hippie/weirdo. 🙂 They probably wish they could let go of a little of their fear and enjoy the playgroup more. I know it’s tough to do….and that’s why I’m sharing videos like this one.

      Advice? Hmmm… Share some of the RIE ideas with your group? Here’s a post I wrote all about forming playgroups: http://dev.janetlansbury.com/2010/06/the-baby-social-scene-5-hints-for-creating-safe-and-joyful-playgroups/ You could ask the other parents to experiment with doing less, while keeping the babies safe. You also might consider joining the community forum here ( https://janetlansbury.com/community/ ), where parents have checked in from neighborhoods all over the world in hope of finding like-minded parents and caregivers in their area.

      1. Thank you Janet 🙂

        I feel I’m quite vocal with my beliefs already (BLW etc) so feel like taking a step back is in order. I also have a feeling that they’re not ready for anything other than the mainstream. It’s fine by me but when it affects my parenting then I feel ‘on edge’.

        I watched them closely again last Wednesday at the group and while I swooped in as soon as her claws came near a little face I let her roam and play and snatch toys etc.

        Another thing I observed was that whenever she so much as looked at a certain toy someone gave it to her. I want her to go and get it..not in a pushy way but in a way that lets her gain motor skills, movement etc but they stop that.

        Sorry for moaning *lol* but I feel you’re the only person who might understand what I mean. *sigh*

        I shall go and check out your links. Hopefully I find like-minded locals, hehe.

        Thank you.

        Nev

        1. Yes, I can understand why those things would be frustrating! Wish you were closer and could attend one of our parent/infant groups, you’d feel so relaxed and supported for your instincts (and probably hear some similar “moaning”).

          1. Yeah, I wish I was. *sigh* Maybe we need a virtual one. Or you need to come over and we run one as a taster/introductory one and then I take over ;p

            Nev

    2. avatar Patty Agacki says:

      Nev…for sharp baby nails i recommend the foam buffing blocks we use for our nail…they are soft, fine grit and easy for us to hang on to, enjoy your baby

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Janet! Like Nev, I have a hard time knowing how to balance my desire to allow my daughter to interact freely and my respect for other parents, who often feel they need to insist on their child treating mine a certain way. It’s a delicate dance, but passing along great information like this will hopefully help.

  4. I love this video, Janet! People ask me what I do with my boys all day, and lately I’ve been able to say, “Observe them”. It’s fascinating, and it holds *my* attention much more than trying to be in the middle of their play. The interactions of children can show us so much. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. This video is quite special isn’t it? Just the other day we had a new playdate with someone I had met recently. Our children are much the same age. Her daughter is 4 months younger than mine. I really wanted to put her at ease and tell her that I didn’t mind if her daughter took Sarah’s toys. I tried to but being a new friendship which I value and her being at our place I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable. She was nervous that her children weren’t behaving ‘properly’; that her two year old wasn’t sharing with my three year old. I said that I thought it was unreasonable for adults to expect children to share and play ‘politely’ and that if we watch them they are happiest when we let them be. She relaxed after this and we could have a nice chat whilst the kids played, and struggled, and sorted out their own differences. Thanks for everything Janet xx

  6. I also love how much other kids seem to understand each other and seem more lenient.. my son has a friend who he hangs out with a bit and she is very physically expressive.. putting her hands in his face ect, moments of rash frustrated movements might mean a stumble or something giving him a fright, usually he would vocalise to me about the fright (then carry on his merry way) but with her he stays quiet and I wonder if he goes “yeah, been there” to himself. Also a lovely moment the other day we had to go to hospital for nothing serious but it was a pretty big day and my guy had to have meds administered and he was totally “over it” by then… i was trying to wait a bit let him cry before i gave him more meds, another little girl about a year and half older than him walked over and saying “baby baby” lightly patted his head and looked into his eyes and he calmed right down – I almost cried she was so lovely! Her mum was hovering trying to show she could take her away – I was showing my gratitude, thinking “can i keep her on?” I swear other kids know far better how to look after each other than we give them credit for. I get so over it when other parents liken their super intelligent babes to dogs. Really how much do we “share” in their presence?

    1. Love this, Simone, and agree: “I swear other kids know far better how to look after each other than we give them credit for.”

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