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Babies Become Happy When Imitated, Says Researchers

Imitating young infants seems to be an effective way to catch their interest and bond with them. The mothers were quite surprised to see their infants joyfully engaging in imitation games with a stranger, but also impressed by the infants' behaviors
Baby with smiles



A recent study conducted by researchers from Lund University in Sweden has revealed that 6-month-old babies exhibit happiness when they are imitated. This significant finding can have valuable implications for parents and caregivers in establishing strong bonds with infants. During the study, a researcher visited the participants’ homes and engaged the babies in various playful activities, mimicking their expressions and actions. The researcher maintained a neutral facial expression while imitating the infants’ different facial expressions and body movements.

This research suggests that babies respond positively to being imitated, which can be a powerful tool for caregivers to connect and engage with infants on a deeper level. It aligns with the natural instinct of parents to respond to their babies promptly when they require something. By recognizing and imitating their babies’ behaviors, parents can foster a sense of connection and understanding, promoting a stronger emotional bond.

The study findings provide valuable insights into the early stages of infant development and highlight the importance of mirroring and responsive interactions for positive emotional experiences. This knowledge can contribute to enhanced caregiving practices and ultimately improve the overall well-being of both babies and their caregivers.


According to the findings of the study, it was observed that babies displayed increased smiles when they were being imitated by researchers. The act of imitation seemed to capture the interest and curiosity of the infants. For instance, a baby might intentionally knock on a table and observe the researcher’s reaction. They may even repeat the action multiple times to gauge the consistency of the response. Interestingly, even if the babies’ facial expressions were not precisely imitated, they appeared content and satisfied with the overall interaction.

This aspect of the study highlights the significance of the imitative behaviour in capturing the attention and engagement of infants. It suggests that babies derive pleasure and derive a sense of connection when their actions and behaviours are acknowledged and responded to by others, even if it is not a perfect replication of their expressions. The act of testing their imitators and observing their responses indicates a level of active participation and exploration by the infants during these interactions.

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According to Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, the lead author of the study, imitating young infants appears to be an effective way to capture their interest and establish a bond with them. The researchers observed that mothers were surprised to witness their infants enthusiastically engaging in imitation games with a stranger, which left them impressed by their infants’ behaviors. While the recorded smiles and happiness demonstrated the immediate positive effect of imitation, the long-term impacts on babies are still not fully understood.

Sauciuc emphasizes that their study contributes to filling the gap in knowledge regarding the effects of imitation on infants. By demonstrating that 6-month-old infants recognize when they are being imitated and that imitation positively influences their interactions, the research sheds light on this aspect. However, there is still more to discover, such as determining when exactly imitation begins to have such effects and understanding the role of imitation recognition in babies’ development.


Further exploration and research are necessary to unravel the broader significance and implications of imitation for infants. Understanding the underlying mechanisms and potential developmental benefits of imitation can provide valuable insights into early social and cognitive development, paving the way for enhanced bonding and interaction between caregivers and infants.


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