You've made sure your baby is healthy, loved and has plenty of activities to fill her day. But do you sometimes wonder if she's happy?
How will I know if my child is happy?
Your baby will become a master at showing you when something makes her happy or upset. Her face will light up in a smile when you enter the room and she'll wail when someone takes her favourite toy away.She'll switch from smiling to crying and back again so quickly that you often won't be able to keep up with her mood changes.
Try not to worry if it seems like your baby spends more time wailing than giggling. It's because babies experience distress earlier than happiness. Crying and unhappy facial expressions are your baby's only way to communicate with you. Your baby's cries will alert you to the fact that she's hungry, uncomfortable or in pain.
As your child grows up, she'll be able to communicate her feelings more easily with words and body language.
How can I make sure she's having fun?
While a favourite toy may bring a smile to her face, what makes your baby happiest is much simpler: you. Connect with your baby through games and play, because if you're having fun, she's having fun!
Play is also a great way for your child to develop skills that will be essential for her future happiness. As she gets older, unstructured play will help her work out what she wants to be when she grows up. Building houses with blocks, experimenting in her toy kitchen and banging on a pan with a spoon could all indicate future career paths (or rule them out!).
How can I help her express her feelings?
For young babies, the only way they know how to express their feelings is through crying. But as your child gets older, you can encourage her to name her feelings and express them to you with words. Young children will pick up very quickly on emotional words such as "happy" or "angry".
Even before she can talk, you can show her pictures of faces and ask her which one is feeling the same way she is.
Bear in mind that it's normal for your child to become oversensitive, clingy or nervous at times. It may be because her routine has changed or she's been disappointed by something. She needs to know that it's all right to be unhappy sometimes, it's simply part of life.
How can I protect my child when she's unhappy?
In your baby's first year, she's learning so many things: how to sit up, crawl, grasp objects, walk andtalk. These skills take time to develop. It's important to let her make mistakes along the way, while encouraging her to keep trying. She'll feel everything from frustration and even anger at first, to a feeling of achievement and confidence when she gets it right.
Allowing your child to feel all these emotions will help her build an inner strength that leads to happiness as she gets older.
Does her health have an effect on her happiness?
Lots of sleep, exercise and a healthy diet are important to your growing child. Giving your little one plenty of space to release her energy will help put her in a good mood. Let her kick her legs in the air, grab at a mobile or crawl towards a beloved ball.
Pay attention to your child's need for structure, too. While some babies are very easygoing, most thrive and feel more settled with a set routine.
Is my child influenced by my mood?
Yes. For better or worse, children pick up on their parents' moods. Even young babies imitate their parents' emotional style. When you smile, your baby smiles and her brain becomes "wired" for smiling.
With a young family, it's normal to feel tired and overwhelmed. But if you find yourself constantly at the end of your tether or depressed, it's important to seek help.