Have you recently noticed your baby staring at you, at strangers, or seemingly anything else in the world around them? If so, you shouldn’t be too surprised. Everything is still relatively new and exciting for them, after all! It’s only natural that they want to take a good long look at everything; it’s all a part of learning.
But what might it mean if a baby stares at you, specifically, especially for extended periods? You might not think you’re doing anything strange or amazing that’s worth staring at, but if a baby disagrees, you may be wondering why. Thankfully, our experts here at 123 Baby Box are more than happy to shed some light on the situation!
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What Could it Mean When a Baby Stares at You?
This answer largely depends on whether the baby is yours, someone else’s, and how well the baby knows you. If your baby is staring at you, it may be because they love you and recognize you as a primary source of comfort and safety. However, no matter your relationship with the baby, it’s also possible that they’re staring because they find something about you interesting.
What Might it Mean When Your Baby Stares at Strangers?
According to Californian clinical psychologist Dr. Forrest Talley, babies stare at the faces of strangers as part of a natural adaptive response that helps them learn about emotions and allows them to develop a foundation for future socialization. Essentially, babies stare at strangers to learn how to relate to others and respond to their facial cues.
What Kind of Things are Babies Attracted to, and Why?
There are many other reasons why babies like to stare at people and objects, but that all boils down to the fact that there are just some things that babies are naturally attracted to and that can easily keep their attention. According to research, some of the things that babies find the most attractive include;
First and foremost, babies are arguably attracted to faces above all else. In fact, they’re wired by evolution to key into people’s facial features and expressions specifically. The attraction babies have for faces likely exists because they contain a wealth of crucial social information that babies can naturally interpret and learn from as they develop. Additionally, babies are naturally able to recognize the differences between the faces of their caregivers versus those of strangers, and they are also innately able to take environmental cues from facial expressions.
For example, one behavioral research study found that toddlers show greater fear of toys that display negative facial features. Babies will also rely on positive facial feedback from their mothers when looking for the go-ahead to explore when they first start crawling.
However, it’s not just people’s faces that babies are interested in. Studies show that babies are attracted to anything even remotely face-like. Scientists routinely found that newborns naturally focus more on images that resemble faces compared to abstract images.
Babies are also naturally drawn to movement, which is a significant reason why so many baby toys involve spinning, bouncing, or flashing components. They’re there to attract and keep their attention!
That said, sometimes babies can become overwhelmed by movement and need a break for their brain to process everything they see correctly. They may actively look away from moving objects and towards something stationary when that happens. In this case, don’t try to force their attention back to the moving object; give them a little time to regroup.
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Bright Contrasting Colors
Similar to movement and facial expressions, a baby’s eyes are also naturally drawn to the visual stimulation provided by bright contrasting colors, especially if there are two starkly contrasting colors side by side. Because so many things feature contrasting colors, there’s a lot that can attract your child’s attention- even something as simple as where a piece of furniture meets a wall.
This is a common reason why it may appear that a baby is staring at nothing. Even the most simple things can fascinate them!
Things that are Different or New
If a baby notices something they haven’t seen before or that’s different than what they’re used to seeing, the chances are that it’s going to attract their attention for a while. Are they staring at someone with glasses, a beard, or who’s showing off an array of intricate tattoos or colorful hair? These features have probably left your little one fascinated!
Things and People that are Beautiful
Some studies have indicated that babies often look at things and people they find appealing or attractive. When shown photos of people who are typically considered “attractive” or “unattractive,” babies were instinctually drawn to the more attractive faces. However, these scientists noted that it doesn’t have anything to do with societal beauty standards. Instead, the results indicate that even babies are naturally drawn to look at those they find interesting.
Baby’s Brain Development
A baby’s brain will grow by as much as 64% in its first 90 days of life. Meaning their little minds are rapidly developing, and they’re starting to make many new connections as they begin to understand the world they live in. If you think your baby is staring at nothing, it’s probably because their mind is working overtime to figure things out. However, they could also be tired and simply need a nap.
Final Thoughts to Consider
Our experts at 123 Baby Box hope that this resource has helped you better understand some of the staring behavior your baby may regularly exhibit. Even though their constant staring may seem strange, don’t worry! It’s an entirely natural part of infant development, and they’re just trying to take in all of the new information they possibly can about the world around them.
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Bonding with a new baby is essential for parents, but that doesn’t mean the process is always easy. Thankfully, our experts at 123 Baby Box are happy to help by providing families with a wide selection of hand-picked toys and essentials!