10-Month Old Baby Understands Emotional Tone of Song Sung By Mom

Anyone who thinks that babies under 12 months of age don’t understand much about their world should think again. Babies might not be able to tell us with words what they know and understand, but they can certainly tell us with their faces, their emotions and their body movements. Babies are amazing sponges and imitators. The baby in the video is living proof of someone perfectly capable of absorbing his mother’s emotion and expressing a like emotion that he hears in her voice while she sang.

The baby is perfectly able to feel emotion and to feel moved by someone else’s words and music. My guess is he will store away the experience of feeling saddened by a song and use the learning experience somehow and in some way later in his young life. Who knows? Perhaps when he is older he will be drawn to and appreciate sad country songs later in life, and not really know why!

When watching the video, I couldn’t help thinking of the high school students I work with at an alternative DC high school who have significant emotional disturbance and behavioral problems. What emotional experiences (e.g, anger, frustration, sadness, fear, happiness, etc.) did these students observe in others faces’ or body movements when they were 12 months of age or younger? What emotions did they hear expressed in the voices around them? Were there mostly positive or negative emotions and voices in their environment?

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