Crying and Smiling

A baby's first smiles are not social -- they seem to be caused more by internal than by external stimulation. However, by their third month, babies show genuine social smiles in response to the facial expressions of other people.

  1. (1.5 pt) Think about what smiles mean to humans. What is the adaptive significance of the human smile? Why would it be advantageous for a human baby to "smile" even before they can do so in response to social stimuli?
  2. (1.5 pt)Think about a parent's response to their baby's smiling. Think about causes and soncequences and consequences as causes. How could the parent's response change smiling from an action caused by internal stimulation to one caused by external stimulation? How would this development be different if the parent were depressed and not responding normally to smiles?
  3. (1.5 pt)Some babies are born without sight, and therefore they will never see another person smile. How do you think this could change the course of their social and emotional development? How could this change the style of parenting?
In class we listened to the different kinds of cries of a newborn. (You can hear them here)
  1. (1.5 pt)The hunger cry is slower and lower in pitch than the pain cry. After a few weeks, many babies settle on a cough-like cry that doesn't turn into a wail to signal hunger. Speculate about how parent's responses to their baby's cries could lead to this change.
  2. (1.5 pt)Drug-addicted babies have high-pitched cries that parents find particularly distressing. How might this affect parental response in a loving stable situation? in a stressed, unstable familyl?
(2.5 pt)Thinking about both smiling and crying as the beginning of infant-parent communication, discuss a) the active role of the child in changing his/her environment and b) the role of parental response in changing the baby's behavior.