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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

My 3-month-old hates the same mobile that his cousin loves. What’s going on?

Q: My 3-month-old nephew loves his mobile. He kicks his arms and legs and squeals with delight. I got the same mobile for my baby, and he hates it. He turns his head away and cries every time I turn it on. What does this mean?

A: Children have different levels of tolerance for stimulation. While some can handle lots of sound and movement all at once, others find it overwhelming. It sounds like your baby is telling you that this mobile is more than he can handle. One option is to put the mobile away for now and try it again later when your son is a bit older and his neurological system is more mature and stronger. Another is to help your son adjust to increasing amounts and kinds of stimulation by letting him look at the mobile without turning it on—no movement, no music. When he seems to be calm and enjoying that, try gently moving it so he can see it turn. If he can handle this and likes it, you can try adding the music. Slowly and sensitively introducing him to more stimulation can help him build greater tolerance over time.

This is also an important example of how babies are good communicators, and are skilled (even from very young ages) at letting you know their needs and wants. When you pay attention to your son’s signals and respond in a supportive way, you let him know he is a good communicator, as well as someone who is loved and accepted for who he is. This gives him the foundation he needs to be a confident, secure person as he grows.

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