Help Your Baby Express Feelings

Children experience many different emotions during the day. You can help your baby express feelings by using concept words when your baby is experiencing the feeling.

Label Feelings and Emotions

Labeling feelings can give your baby a way to express them with fewer tantrums and tears.

RECOGNIZE your child's emotions.

NAME the emotion.

DESCRIBE why they are feeling the emotion.

When parents help their babies label their feelings, it shows that parents are really listening and understanding. In the examples below, the phrases in the right column give the feeling a word and talk about why the baby has this feeling. This supports concept development.

​Missed opportunities to recognize, name and describe the baby’s feelings:Try these phrases instead:
​Baby pinches a finger in high chair tray.
Parent:"Don't cry. It will be okay."
Baby pinches a finger in high chair tray.
Parent:"Ow! That hurts. You are sad. Let Mommy kiss it."
Baby is frustrated with a toy.
Parent:"Stop throwing. Here, I'll do it."
​Baby is frustrated with a toy.
Parent:"You are mad. That is hard. Can Dad help?"
Baby is excited to see Grandma.
Parent:"There is Grandma."
Baby is excited to see Grandma.
Parent:"Oh boy! Grandma! You are so excited."


Use More than One Word for the Same Idea ​to Expand Vocabulary

Remember to help expand the vocabulary. Use different feeling words and mix it up – don't overuse the basics (happy, sad, mad). What else can we say?

"You are so SAD. You wanted to play with that toy."

"You are UPSET.  You were not ready to share."

"That makes you UNHAPPY when you can't have your toy."

"Are you a SCARED of the puppy?  I will pet him first." 

"Yes, his bark is loud. That FRIGHTENS you. I will pet him…I think he is friendly."