Why Do Babies Stare?

Why Do Babies Stare at Me?

Babies love making eye contact. It doesn’t matter if it’s with mom, dad, or a stranger; babies love locking eyes with others. While this is an adorable habit, after a lot of eye contact with your child, you may be wondering, “Why do babies stare at me?” While the answer could be that they like looking at their caretakers, there are several different reasons as to why your child may stare at you.

Why Babies StarE

Babies are cute little bundles of joy. They’re easy to love, laugh with, and smile at. Babies are almost always the center of attention in any room and are always on the receiving end of lots of eye contact from everyone else.

When babies stare back, it’s often that they are just mimicking the actions that they see everyone else do. As every moment is another opportunity for a baby to learn something new about life, they soak up the stares they receive from others and stare right back.

Essentially, the simple answer to why babies stare at you is that you are already staring at them.

Looking Into Your Baby’s Eyes

It’s not uncommon to feel a magical connection when staring into a baby’s eyes. These pure and precious beings make us feel intense and positive emotions that are only multiplied when we look into their eyes. 
Scientists have also uncovered another phenomenon that may answer why babies stare at you: babies are syncing their brain waves with yours.

Research reveals that when babies stare at Mom or Dad with unblinkingly, they are sharing brain activity. When adults look into the eyes of their baby, brainwaves from the baby and caregiver sync up. These studies show that nerve cells in the brain respond when they make eye contact with their caregivers. This brain activity eventually begins to resemble the activity in the caregiver’s brain.

These studies show that the more babies stare and make eye contact, the better the connection between caregiver and baby. Could it be that the reason why babies stare at you is that they want to connect with you?

This amazing research sheds new light on the powerful connection between parent and child. As eyes and brains connect, the bond between adults and babies is that much stronger.

Why Babies Stare into Space

If there’s another behavior that babies engage in often, it’s staring into space. While some parents may worry that there is something wrong with their child, there’s more to this behavior than they may realize.

Children often stare into space to pass the time, but this can be a sign of something more.

You Have a Newborn

If you’re wondering why babies stare at you or stare into space, the answer may be simpler than you think: they’re newborn babies. Babies are just being introduced to the world and have so much to look at and learn. Newborns especially aren’t able to do little else than stare, eat, and sleep. As such, staring at their caregivers or staring into space every now and then is a perfectly normal activity for babies.

Babies that stare off into space often do so as a way to “check out” and center themselves after becoming overstimulated. This staring into space or staring at you may just be a sign that they need to gather their thoughts and regroup.

Your Child May Be Autistic

In your search to learn why babies stare at you or stare into space, you may find several resources pointing you towards signs of autism. While this may not be the case for your child, autism can be the reason your child stares at you or stares into space.

Children that are more often than not staring into space, staring blankly at their caregivers, or staring into their own worlds may be diagnosed with autism. Autism is often diagnosed when a child is two-years-old, but parents should speak with a doctor if they have concerns about their baby not making eye contact.

When diagnosing autism, doctors look to see if the child is avoiding eye contact or staring in an odd fashion. As toddlers and infants learn social cues by looking at others, your child intently staring at you or looking around at their environment shouldn’t necessarily set off any alarms. However, if you are concerned that this behavior may be linked to autism, it is best to speak with your child’s doctor.

They’re Experiencing Absence Seizures

While absence seizures usually occur later on in a baby’s life (around the age of four and 14), these seizures aren’t always easy to spot. These seizures can look as if your child is staring off into space, as they won’t respond to cues and act as though they are lost in a daze. These seizures can occur several times during the day and last for 20 second periods.

Why Babies Smile at You

Just like staring at whatever they can get their eyes on, babies tend to smile for the majority of the time (that is when they’re not crying). Wondering why babies stare at you and smile? Perhaps babies smile when they stare at you because they’re happy? Science suggests that there is a real reason for this smiling habit.

Certain studies show the reason why babies stare at you and smile may be that babies between four and 17 weeks just want to make others smile. These studies show that infants often interact with their caretakers with the goal of pleasing in mind.

In the majority of their social interactions, babies know how effective their behavior can be. Whether it is a stare, a smile, or a giggle, babies watch how their caretakers respond to their every move. Oftentimes, babies are trying to spend as much time as possible getting their mothers to smile.

These studies shows the reason why babies stare at you and smile is that they want to keep their mothers smiling. Apart from the fact that babies are hoping to make their caretakers smile, babies seem to understand the joy that comes with witnessing someone else’s smile and knowing that they are the reason for that smile.

Scientists believe that these moments of staring and smiling are lessons in which babies learn what joy is. By the time a baby has reached nine months, they are truly smiling because they are joyful.

They’re Learning New Social Skills

Learning why babies stare at you and smile allows parents to better understand the development of their baby’s social skills. Babies often display “anticipatory smiling”. This anticipatory smiling occurs when babies try to share the joy they feel from interacting with their favorite things.

Parents will identify anticipatory smiling when they watch their baby interacting with items like toys, favorite foods, and the like. After smiling at their favorite toy, the baby will then smile at you. This shows that your baby wants to share this smile and feeling with you. This anticipatory smiling is an advanced cognitive step that shows babies want to share an emotion with another human.

Studies show that when a child displays anticipatory smiling at nine months, they are more likely to be highly socially competent at 30 months. If your child is staring and smiling at you, specifically exhibiting anticipatory smiling, this is a sign that your baby will be a well-adjusted child the more they grow and develop.

What to Do When Baby Stares

Another possible reason why babies stare at you might be that they are simply bored. It’s human nature to look for stimulation and babies are no exception.

Parents can consider the following ideas to keep their little ones properly stimulated:

Make a Move

Babies love to watch things move. Part of their learning process is identifying objects that are moving around them. Parents can use a dancing mobile or a game of hide-and-seek to keep their babies visually stimulated.

Provide Contrast

Contrast is important for babies. If you’re wondering why babies stare at you, it could be that you need to change up the decor around the house. For example, having two dynamic colors next to one another will certainly capture a baby’s attention. Parents can provide contrast for their babies by decorating their nursery with bold patterns and bright colors.

Change Things Up

Certain accessories like glasses, beards, hats, and hair color can easily catch a baby’s attention. While you don’t need to dye your hair pink to get your baby’s attention, changing things up can keep them visually stimulated. As babies are learning more about the world every day, they love staring at things they’ve never seen before.

Conclusion

If you’ve caught your baby staring you in the eyes on multiple occasions, there’s no need to ask yourself “Why do babies stare at me?”. This baby behavior is completely normal and a sign of social competency. With this information in mind, be sure to pay attention to any concerning behaviors like staring into space or possible seizures. To gain a better understanding of your child’s behavior, be sure to speak with your baby’s doctor and determine if their behavior is in fact healthy.

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