First-Time Friends

Delivery Method: 

As caregivers, we know that young infants are sensitive to the ways in which their social partners relate to them. For example, research has shown that during face-to-face interactions, infants respond differently to a caregiver’s smiling face than to a still face (a neutral, non-reciprocating facial expression). Increasingly, young infants are participating in settings outside of the home, with same aged peers. However, the question of whether young infants initiate social exchanges and demonstrate contingent responses with peers (reciprocal smiling, cooing, gazing), remains largely unexplored.

In this Videative, we closely study a short interaction between two infants. While some may believe that the noises that they make are non-social, just one child babbling near another, other's might notice an intent to communicate through the verbalizations and actions Justin directs toward Connor. Watch as Justin (wearing blue) rolls over to face Conner (wearing pale green). Notice how Justin looks up toward Conner’s face as if to establish eye contact. He further signals Conner by coordinating his gaze with emphasized verbalizations. The rise and fall of Justin’s voice is not unlike the intonation adults use to initiate communication with others. Justin also grasps Conner’s clothing. Adults often foster intimacy by caressing an infant during social exchanges. Similarly, Justin may intend to establish an emotional connection with Conner by making physical contact. Perhaps to indicate that the interaction has not ended, Justin maintains contact with Conner as he rolls away. Notice that Justin falls silent while lying on his back. As he again rolls toward Conner, Justin resumes his effort to establish a mutual gaze. His more emphatic verbalizations suggest Justin may expect Conner to reciprocate his social overtures. Do you think Conner will respond to his peer’s social advances?

Keywords: Infants, Body, Child-Child, Communication, Mind of Other, Invitation, videative

Length of videative: 18 paragraphs, 6 video subclips
Length of stand-alone master video clip: 1 minute, 7 seconds