Babies Feel Jealous at 3 Months Old
The study, conducted in 2006, involved 45 babies ages 3 months and 6 months with their mothers on hand. When Legerstee interacted with the infants, she got smiles and coos. When she didn't respond to them, they appeared sad and looked away. But when she was busy taking a drink and didn't engage, they had no reaction, suggesting even infants sense motives that guide communicative behaviour.
But the last two scenarios surprised her the most. When Legerstee spoke to the mothers in a monologue, the babies didn't react much. But as soon as their mothers became engaged with her, talking and laughing and excluding them, they reacted strongly. "They got so upset, they would turn around in their seats and vocalize intensely and angrily," Legerstee said.
Babies form a strong connection with their primary caregiver, and therefore this type of response at an early age would be a natural reaction given the dependent nature of the relationship.
Legerstee advises that if a baby is showing signs of jealousy, then it's best to interrupt what you're doing and show the infant some attention. I would have thought that dropping everything and rushing to a screaming baby would only serve to reinforce their negative behaviour. As a parent you can't be such a push-over. You don't want the baby to feel abandoned or unloved - they should be safe and cared for at all times - but a parent should be able to have a conversation for 5 minutes without having to constantly placate their child. I can only imagine how needy a baby would grow up to be with constant attention like this.