by Ann Douglas
The relatives have arrived at your place for the holiday season. Your normally happy and contented three-month-old is suddenly out of sorts. If you didn't know better, you'd swear she was jealous of all the attention these visitors (a.k.a. intruders) are demanding of you. But a three-month-old is far too young to be experiencing feelings of jealousy -- right?
That was the conventional thinking until quite recently, when a researcher at York University rocked the baby world by announcing that babies do, in fact, exhibit feelings of jealousy much earlier than previously believed.
Maria Legerstee, a professor in York's Department of Psychology, noticed that babies as young as three months of age, became increasingly distressed when their mothers engaged in conversations with their mothers, actively excluding the baby.
Any mom who has attempted to carry on a prolonged conversation in her baby's presence – or even to breastfeed a baby of a certain age while talking on the phone -- has no doubt seen this phenomenon in action. The baby makes it quite clear that he's not impressed that someone else is trying to elbow in on his turf – on his mom. The reaction may range from a whine or an angry mumble (with the breast still hanging from his mouth!) to an out-and-out wail, accompanied by kicks and complete body contortions—whatever it takes to drive the unwanted stranger away.
Hey, babies have never been known for being subtle.
How did you manage your baby's jealous fits? Share with us in the comments!
Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.
Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.