Baby Behavior: Tools for Medical Professionals

*Please keep in mind this video is intended for physicians, and not perinatal nurses.


Our research has shown that many parents think that babies are hungry whenever their infants cry or wake. Concern that babies are not getting enough to eat may drive parents to ignore infant feeding guidelines (e.g. overfeeding their infants or giving cereal in bottles). Overfeeding and inappropriate infant-feeding practices may increase infants’ risk for childhood obesity. In response, we developed a series of quick, engaging messages about normal infant behavior that could be used by health care providers during contacts with parents. The intervention, based on pioneering work done decades ago by Drs. Berry Brazelton and Kathryn Barnard, was intended to support more realistic expectations of infant behavior and provide parents with feasible alternatives, other than over feeding, to address challenging infant behaviors. The messages are framed positively and focused on supporting parents’ understanding of their infants’ behaviors rather than the feeding practices themselves. In a pilot study and a statewide program evaluation, the intervention was associated with higher breastfeeding rates and lower rates of infant overweight among low-income infants participating in California WIC program. The “Baby Behavior” intervention is now used in busy WIC clinics in more than 40 states.

In a study funded by The USDA Center for Collaborative Research on WIC Nutrition Education Innovations at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, we examined pediatric providers’ use of the messages during well-baby contacts in an effort to enhance the effects that we have already seen in CA WIC. The videos and handouts below were created as part of this study. While the content of the intervention (based on developmentally normal infant cues, crying, and sleep patterns) is not new, we developed a highly efficient style of delivery so that the messages can be shared without extending well-child appointments.


The education is divided into 4 parts,  presented in 2 videos, each lasting about 25 minutes.

Video  1

Section 1 – Background and Research

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • List 2 common infant behaviors that convinced mothers their infants were always hungry.
  • Differentiate between problem management and emotional regulation behaviors in parents.
Section 2 – Baby Basics

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Differentiate between infant engagement and disengagement cues.
  • Describe parents’ expectations for infant crying and methods that may be used to reduce crying and calm crying babies.
  • Describe parents’ expectations for infant sleep.
  • Differentiate sleep patterns typically seen in young babies.

Part 2

Section 3 – Newborn Behavior and Breastfeeding

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • List 3 common events occurring in the early postpartum that may result in mothers abandoning their breastfeeding goals.
  • List 3 key messages that can be used to address mothers’ early infant-feeding concerns.
Section 4 – Baby Behavior Approach

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe 3 steps used to frame Baby Behavior messages that improve the effectiveness of their delivery.
  • Describe how Baby Behavior messages can be used easily during well-baby visits.
  • List at least 2 key messages to be delivered during each well-baby visit during the first 6 months.

Handouts (Available for each well-child contact in the first 6 months)

Newborn –  English and Spanish

2-8 Weeks – English and  Spanish

2-3 Months – English and  Spanish

4-5 Months – English and Spanish

6 Months – English and  Spanish



If you have any questions, please contact us at or 530-754-5364.