For babies to engage in pro-social behaviors, they need to be cared for and respected as individuals. For this to occur, their Provider must respect them as having individual needs, desires, likes and dislikes.
A Providers’ response is suppose to be with sensitively to each individual baby, meaning when an infant communicates a need and want, the caregiver understood them and responded promptly, compassionately, and appropriately. Providers communicate by talking to babies, This type of response models empathy and compassion, and an understanding of the unique “personhood” of each baby, this is part of the reason babies demonstrate caring, pro-social behaviors in return.
Even very young babies, as young as 3 or 4 months, are capable of forming friendships and being kind to others. Children who develop friendships are found to be happier, are more socially competent, better able to work out problems, and learn to be motivated by the concerns of others. Pro-social babies feel a sense of belonging to their community. Babies who feel welcomed, accepted for who they are, and who are with consistent groups of peers and caregivers build a sense that the environment is a trustworthy place
Most importantly, we should never underestimate the competence of babies; even very young babies are able to learn the important social lessons of how to behave in a group. Everything we do around them teaches them how to live, love and think from the very beginning. If we treat them with care, respect and compassion they will learn to treat their “friends” this way as well.